Retired Adm. Dennis Blair, former Director of National Intelligence from 2009-10, said the 29-year-old National Security Agency leaker was a “low-level employee”with an “overinflated” sense of his role and endangered the country.
In an interview on PBS with Judy Woodruff on Monday, Blair said Edward Snowden, the leaker, was also making some “pretty wild statements” and was violating laws to talk and disclose information about programs such as PRISM.
He said after listening to parts of Snowden’s interview that the Guardian posted on Sunday, it was clear he “didn’t have the full picture of these programs that are run by the intelligence agencies. And so he reacted to the little piece that he knew, and he took a very dangerous action.”
“It sounds like he has an overinflated idea of the power that he had as a low-level employee,” Blair said. “He didn’t understand all the checks and balances or the intent of the program.”
Snowden claimed he had the ability to wiretap anyone–including the president–so long as he had a personal email address. Blair insisted the surveillance programs were being used for intelligence on those living outside the United States.
Blair said Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was also “flat wrong” on the constitutionality of the program.
“I think it’s very constitutional,” he said. “It involves all branches of the federal government. It’s designed to protect Americans, while protecting their civil liberties. So, I think it’s an extremely well-run and constitutional program.”
Blair said the surveillance programs have thwarted multiple attacks and said he was “all for talking about the general principles of these programs,” but “when those who have been inside the programs talk about specific parts of them, it poses a danger, because… our enemies use them to learn, and then come at us in new ways. And it costs us a lot more time, effort, trouble, and there are periods of danger until we can get back on top of it.”