Char­lie Rose talks to for­mer NSA and CIA chief Michael Hay­den

The only man to run both the CIA and the NSA dis­cusses Syria, the en­cryp­tion stand­off with Ap­ple, and Ed­ward Snow­den’s im­pact

Bloomberg Businessweek (Asia) - - CONTENTS -

With this agree­ment be­tween Rus­sia and the U.S. over a par­tial cease-fire in Syria, it’s start­ing to look like a win-win for Putin, don’t you think?

Let me play this out a lit­tle bit. You’ve got our sec­re­tary of state try­ing to move heaven and earth to stop the killing. But we’re in the po­si­tion of be­ing the sup­pli­cant. [Kerry’s] go­ing to the Rus­sians and the Ira­ni­ans, “Please, we need a cease-fire.” And let me tell you the sen­tence he then is un­able to say: “We need a cease-fire. And if we don’t get it, this is what we’re go­ing to do.” He’s out there fly­ing with­out top cover, be­cause ev­ery­one knows we’re not com­mit­ted to any more dra­matic ac­tion in Syria.

Ed­ward Snow­den is mak­ing noises about want­ing to come back to the U.S. if he’s given the prom­ise of a fair trial.

And he has a def­i­ni­tion of a fair trial. He wants to able to use the pub­lic in­ter­est de­fense, which in essence means, “It re­ally doesn’t mat­ter that I broke the law. I did a good thing, and I should only be judged on your ap­pre­ci­a­tion of how good a thing I did.” I guess that would be at­trac­tive to some peo­ple, but if you look at the Amer­i­can his­tory of civil dis­obe­di­ence and you read Thoreau, it only be­comes a morally jus­ti­fi­able act if you’re pre­pared to pay the con­se­quences.

How would you char­ac­ter­ize the dam­age Snow­den caused the na­tion?

As I men­tion in my book [ Play­ing to the Edge: Amer­i­can In­tel­li­gence in the Age of Ter­ror], it’s the sin­gle big­gest hem­or­rhage of Amer­i­can se­crets in the his­tory of the re­pub­lic. And 98 per­cent of what he re­leased has to do with how Amer­ica col­lects for­eign in­tel­li­gence. What civil lib­er­ties quo­tient was there in his giv­ing a correspond­ent a doc­u­ment that let him write about the abil­ity of the NSA to in­ter­cept and pen­e­trate the e-mails of the Syr­ian armed forces? They just change their be­hav­ior.

You just watched Ap­ple at­tor­ney Ted Olson de­fend the pro­tec­tion of cus­tomer data. Where do you stand?

My po­si­tion is that with the FBI and oth­ers de­mand­ing that Ap­ple uni­ver­sally en­able back­doors in their devices to break oth­er­wise un­break­able en­cryp­tion, I ac­tu­ally side with Ap­ple. On the grounds of se­cu­rity and safety, I think that’s the best choice. Amer­i­can se­cu­rity and safety, in this cur­rent cy­ber era, is bet­ter served with end-to-end un­break­able en­cryp­tion.

But is a back­door into all iPhones what the FBI is re­ally af­ter?

I’m not con­vinced that’s what [FBI Di­rec­tor] Jim Comey is ask­ing for. I think there are dif­fer­ences. And frankly, I’m will­ing, at the present time, to shade in the di­rec­tion of the bureau’s re­quest here [for ac­cess] to this phone. [In a court doc­u­ment un­sealed on Feb. 23, Ap­ple said the FBI had re­quested ac­cess to at least 11 iPhones since Septem­ber.] Oth­er­wise, I think Tim Cook, who I’ve talked to about this in the past, is in the po­si­tion of say­ing, “Ap­ple un­der no cir­cum­stances will al­low it­self to co­op­er­ate with law en­force­ment”—which I don’t think is a good po­si­tion to be in.

Tell me about the state of cy­ber­war­fare on the govern­ment level and the bar­gain the pres­i­dent struck with China.

Boy, we’ve done a lot in this area. We’ve or­ga­nized pow­er­ful in­sti­tu­tions to go ahead and work Amer­ica’s will in the cy­ber­do­main on both de­fense and of­fense. To be per­fectly can­did, we’re bet­ter at steal­ing other peo­ple’s se­crets than any­one else in the world. But we self-limit. We steal se­crets to keep our cit­i­zens free and safe. We do not steal se­crets to make them rich. That makes us one of maybe four or five coun­tries on the planet that limit them­selves in that way. You men­tioned Xi Jin­ping and Pres­i­dent Obama’s agree­ment. Xi agreed to the Amer­i­can def­i­ni­tion of le­git­i­mate espionage. In other words, you don’t use the power of the state to steal se­crets for profit. We’ll see what hap­pens.

Is it eas­ier to get in­for­ma­tion on a na­tion-state than it is on a group like Is­lamic State?

Ab­so­lutely. And in fact, the fun­da­men­tal tec­tonic shift in global geopol­i­tics is that the things that can pri­mar­ily go bump in the night are not the prod­ucts, any longer, of malev­o­lent state power. They’re the byprod­ucts of state fail­ure.

“To be per­fectly can­did, we’re bet­ter at steal­ing other peo­ple’s se­crets than any­one else in the world”

Watch Char­lie Rose on Bloomberg TV Week­nights at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. ET

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