“Is This the New Espionage?” CBS Asks of Leaking Government Files, While Airing Leaked Government Video

“Is this the new espionage,” CBS asks, “the spy who believes, for the good of his country, he must reveal its secrets?”

CBS then chooses to give former NSA Director Michael Hayden — who oversaw the NSA when it engaged in an unprecedented illegal surveillance program — airtime to ask,

What kind of sense of moral superiority does it take, to feel like your moral judgment trumps the moral judgment of not one but two Presidents, both houses of Congress, and bipartisan majorities, the American court system, and 35,000 of your coworkers at the NSA?

Congratulations to CBS for at least visually tying Hayden to his gravy train at Chertoff Group, a firm associated with profiting off of “security solutions” (like Rapiscan) that end up being too costly and ineffective.

Hayden then tries to get in the head of Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden.

These two most recent cases — Private Manning and Mr. Snowden — they’re a bit different. They’re probably doing it for ideology and almost this romantic, absolute commitment to transparency.

I’ll come back to Hayden and his very amusing outrage in a second.

But did you notice what else CBS did in this clip?

They aired a leaked CIA/FBI film produced as part of Obama’s Insider Threat program, the program that also pushes government employees to spy on their coworkers.

And while CBS later admits, several minutes into this clip, that Snowden “is not a spy,” it sure seems funny for them for have first asked if leaking spy agency materials is “the new Espionage” in a piece that itself airs leaked spy agency material.

You’d think the obvious conclusion would be that Snowden’s action is the old journalism?

So back to Michael Hayden.

CBS barely discusses the law in this clip. I mean, sure, they talk about the convicted spies Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames and mention the law, Espionage. But they don’t mention FISA — one of several laws that Michael Hayden broke — nor do they mention war crimes that some of Bradley Manning’s disclosures revealed.

Which is sort of odd given that according to these whistleblowers’ own descriptions of their motives, both men talked about the laws they at least perceived their government to be grossly violating. (And the Draft NSA IG Report Snowden leaked provides more details on Hayden’s unpunished crimes than we’ve gotten before.)

By the way, when Hayden claims “the American court system” sides with him? He forgets Vaughn Walker’s ruling that, in fact, the government had illegally wiretapped al-Haramain during that window when Hayden agreed to continue the program even though the Acting Attorney General Jim Comey had deemed it illegal.

CBS decided to invite a criminal, Michael Hayden, on to attack the actions of a man who had provided the public additional evidence of his crimes. The clip ends with Hayden warning about how much more empowered insider threats are.

What is new that in this modern connected era the trusted insider who betrays us is far more empowered to do damage far greater than these kinds of folks were able to do in the past and so we just have to be more vigilant.

Perhaps the question we ought to be asking is not “is this the new espionage” but “who is the greater insider threat risk, Edward Snowden or Michael Hayden?”

23 replies
  1. Snoopdido says:

    Is this Hayden interview on CBS considered as sponsored content for the Chertoff Group? Does CBS get paid for running it?

    It sure seems like this is a Phase 2 information operation by the government/private sector intelligence community after Phase 1 “Snowden is a traitor, so let’s hang him from the nearest tree” information operation fell flat on its face as evidenced by the latest Quinnipiac poll where now “Fifty-five percent said Snowden was a whistle-blower” – http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-10/snowden-seen-as-whistlebloweer-by-majority-in-new-poll.html.

  2. What Constitution says:

    So… If CBS got it from somebody who works/ed for the government and isn’t presently being accused by the government, that means it wasn’t “leaked”, right? Is that the reasoning? The “really good hearsay” exception?

  3. orionATL says:

    the revelations about nsa spying are gaining speed and “traction”.

    first there was just senators wayden and udall (and, doing yeoman spadework, aclu, eff, etc.)

    then came edward snowden, the guardian, and glenn greenwald with the big bang.

    the wapo timidly joined in.

    then the german die welt (? help,scribe).

    then the wall street journal joined in.

    then the stodgy, sclerotic nytimes joined in.

    uh oh. now what do we do?

    now, to divert attention from the growing body of facts of presidential, congressional, and military misbehavior of the most serious sort,

    we have the spectacle of the obama presidency sending war profiteer/criminal general michael hayden on teevee to desperately try to re-focus our attention on “a 29 year old hacker”

    rather than on those constitutional depredations of two presidents, 6 u.s. congresses, and a couple of dozen generals at the very top of our military.

    and who better to choose for that job that the journalistic schmores of teeveeland –

    “we want to hear your opinion.

    tell us what you think.

    is snowden a new spy, and old spy, or a hero?

    vote here. “

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    What a hoot! Mr. Hayden and his peers are in the business of telling us what our morals should be. The proviso being that they attempt to redefine them as needed through massive, industry-backed campaigns, so as to make sure they favor whatever he and his colleagues cook up. Alex Carey must be spinning in his grave.

    What must upset Mr. Hayden, who works for Mr. Obama almost as much as he does the private outsourced intel “community”, is that a former underling, a normal citizen, has the temerity to put his moral beliefs ahead of claims made by his employer. Isn’t that the argument, albeit misused, that fundamentalists make to justify why they should be excused from complying with this or that federal law – because their conscience, their religious – and certainly their political – beliefs demand it?

    However hypocritical and self-serving, Mr. Hayden’s comment remains a shiny object. The issue is what he and the rest of the US private/public intel “community” are doing that harms the public interest, not the moral beliefs of an individual whistleblower.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Mr. Hayden’s use of “ideology” as an epithet is routine character assassination. It’s code for pinko, commie, fanatic, radical, un-American, terrorist, or whatever the nasty name of the moment is.

    That Mr. Hayden has a more radical ideology – one that exalts America’s peculiar form of capitalism and his company’s contributions to it – never seems to be an issue. It’s rather like the MSM view that victims of state action may be described as “violent”, but the state’s conduct can never be described as violent.

  6. orionATL says:

    “… “security solutions” (like Rapiscan) that end up being too costly and ineffective…”

    was that not nsa whistleblower thomas tamm’s complaint about chertoff’s bureaucratic flights of fancy when chertoff was head of the nsa?

    the national security administration of the united states of america –

    “we create reeaally big solutions for little problems” **

    ** “and proudly spend public monies like a drunken four-star general

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    “[T]he question we ought to be asking is not “is this the new espionage” but “who is the greater insider threat risk, Edward Snowden or Michael Hayden?”

    Well, Mr. Hayden is the only insider on that list. But since his name is on the nomenklatura of those considered too big to mess with, his name will never end up on a charge sheet. Pity about that democracy thing, and the rule of law. Besides, if Mr. Hayden didn’t make millions saving us from some real and many false threats, what on earth would he do?

  8. JThomason says:

    We are playing out the shrewd multi-decade strategy to avoid the pitfalls to those who enjoy the will-to-power in the American theater that arose in the media coverage of Vietnam and in the context of Watergate. It is a strategy to minimize moral outrage.

    Still some have had the courage to maintain the drum beat. Here is a piece on Hastings. Not pointing to any conclusions but I am not sure I had heard his voice as clearly before watching this:


    Manning and Snowden without a doubt have raised the stakes in the moral debate.

  9. john francis lee says:

    Is it a Corporate-Government Cabal, or a Government-Corporate Cabal ? ANd what difference does it make. Snowden’s ‘leak’ was the very identity of the ‘two’.

  10. joanneleon says:

    I got a big kick out of Hayden’s statement about how dare Snowden assume a moral superiority over the Congress, the courts, and 35K NSA employees. First, most members of Congress did not know the details about the surveillance state. Second, most courts did not either. It’s a secret court! Third, I don’t know how many of the 35K employees he’s talking about (I thought NSA had about a half million contractors or something) knew about the details either. I’m pretty sure they keep these things compartmentalized.

    But the best part is that Hayden really could have been talking about himself. When asked by the White House if he would continue the dragnet even if the court found it to be wrong, he said oh yes sir, I’ll do it. He was willing to deliberately subvert the law and the Constitution. So who is imposing his moral superiority again?

    Despite his always calm nature, this guy is a radical and boy does somebody need to give him a mirror.

  11. orionATL says:


    can we stop pussy-footing around!

    barack obama is the new richard nixon.

    barrack millstone bama: “i am not a constitutional crook. */ ” :)

  12. lefty665 says:

    @orionATL: @7 Getting hard to tell all the players without a program. Chertoff was Secretary of Homeland Security and now employs Hayden and other ex officials who get fat off Federal contracts and shilling. Hayden was the DIRNSA who turned NSA’s tools inward and was subsequently Director of the CIA. In both organizations the A is for Agency.

    @12 – BO makes ole slippery Dick look like a small time grifter.

  13. orionATL says:


    “hard to tell the players…”

    jeez, i had no idea it was so, shall we say fu__ing, incestuous.

    this is a god damned trainwreck;

    no wonder they’re so intent on strangling snowden (though a tad late i’d say).

  14. lefty665 says:

    @orionATL: “no wonder they’re so intent on strangling snowden (though a tad late i’d say).”

    Don’t believe I’d care to be pinched between Putin and BO. Snowden’s a brave boy, and bright. Even though he has not disclosed much we did not know already, we owe him and Greenwald for getting it out front in big bright letters. Turns out power point is good for something, who’d have thunk it?

  15. joanneleon says:

    Off topic: Does anyone know why John Brennan left the CIA after 25 years, went to work for (or started?) private intel company, and then went back to work for the govt in 2008? Presumably he was advising the Obama campaign and assumed he was getting the CIA Director job. But why did he leave the agency and what did his private companies do?

  16. orionATL says:


    yes, in spades.

    that’s part of what legitimizing our military leaders’ lying has been all about. though high-level military lying was the coin-of-the-realm in vietnam (gen westmoreland and enemy casualties),

    after vietnam it was carved in stone as necessary behavior for the senior military leaders.

    from my perspective, the problem is that general alexander, general clapper, general hayden, and generalissimo obama, clearly behave as if the american citizenry are the legitimate target for deception.

    hence general hayden’s disgraceful, intent-on-deceiving appearance on cbs – no doubt carefully arranged on the part of both gov and corp.


  17. D Benton Smith says:

    Hayden “begs the question” to presume Edward Snowden felt morally superior to anyone, when in point of fact Snowden simply applied the moral standards imparted by his unalloyed loyalty to the US Constitution. A loyalty Hayden self admittedly lacks.
    Secondly, Haydens invocation of the “good German just following orders” argument is both revealing, and, of course invalid. Nuremburg firmly established that , and not just as a moral standard, but as a legal standard as well. Mr Hayden should reconsider ,very carefully indeed , the ramifications of his own misplaced fealty

  18. thatvisionthing says:

    I think this is the creepiest stories I’ve read, and it stars Michael Hayden. In December 2008, before Obama had been inaugurated…


    As a number of outlets have reported, in his book, Daniel Klaidman describes Michael Hayden’s effort to convince Obama to approve 6 torture techniques by demonstrating some of them on David Shedd.

    But [Hayden’s] most unusual prop was David Shedd, the deputy DNI for policy, plans, and requirements. Not long into his presentation, Hayden called Shedd over. Suddenly, unexpectedly, Hayden slapped Shedd’s face. Then he grabbed him by the lapels and started to shake him. He’d wanted to throw him up against the wall during this demonstration, but there were chairs in the way. Instead he explained to Obama and his aides about the interrogation technique known as “walling,” in which detainees were thrown against a flexible artificial wall that made a loud noise on impact but caused little physical pain.

    and I wrote a comment about it later, at the end of a long thread about paranoia/secrecy-induced fail and self-inflicted, self-defeating stupidity:



    You cannot encompass how secrecy fucks up our country and everyone we touch. There are no trustworthy checks and balances at all, it’s all poisoned. We the People, no longer equal and no longer self governors, are shut out of it, audience/fodder. Somewhere I guess there’s a king now, but who is it really? Hannah Arendt called it Rule by Nobody. The buck stops nowhere. There’s not even majesty, just mutual distrust, and what goes round comes round is lies and idiocy and dog eat dog. Reality is treason. Aye aye.

    Thinking of the story about the underling that Michael Hayden used like a sock doll to demonstrate our torture techniques on for then-president-elect Obama. Hayden slaps him, shakes him, then since there are chairs in his way and he can’t actually throw him against a wall, he just describes what he would be doing if he could. Obama lets him. The sock doll lets him. It’s a failure of humanity all around. Everyone is marked. I imagine each of them walked away from that room with motive, and perhaps someday means and opportunity, for doing something that I wouldn’t exactly describe as “a decent respect for the opinion of mankind.”

    What did David Petraeus say about the Iraq war in 2003?

    “Tell me how this ends.”

Comments are closed.