After a week of explosive disclosures, former NSA officials come out to say what the highly secretive agency does, and does not, do.
One of the most startling disclosures from Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked top secret documents to The Guardian and The Washington Post was that he could tap into the private email of any American citizen—even President Obama—from his desk station in Hawaii.
This undated U.S. government photo shows an aerial view of the National Security Agency (NSA) in Fort Meade, Maryland. (US Government/AP).
Former top NSA officials interviewed by The Daily Beast Tuesday, however, say Snowden’s claim that systems administrators like himself could eavesdrop on U.S. citizens is incorrect, and that any NSA employee that targeted even a foreign source for personal reasons would be stripped of clearances and fired on the spot.
"Not all analysts have the power to target anything,” Snowden told The Guardian in an interview posted Sunday. “But I, sitting at my desk, had the authority to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president if I had a personal email.”
Michael Hayden, a former NSA director and CIA director, said Snowden’s assertion was “absolutely outrageous.” “He was not a collector,” he said. “I don’t know he could do anything like that,” adding that Snowden, a low-ranking contractor, would not have the authority or access to listen in on phone calls or read emails from anyone.
For the rest of the story: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/06/12/former-nsa-director-michael-hayden-responds-to-edward-snowden-claim.html