Hayden: US ‘Absolutely’ in Greater Danger of Terrorist Attack if Patriot Act Expires

On this weekends “Fox News Sunday.” the former director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), former U.S. Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden said Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) opposition to the proposed reforms of the Patriot Act are “really unfortunate,” and, “absolutely,” puts the Untied States in greater danger of terrorist attack.

On Paul’s fight against the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans phone records, which will cause a showdown in the Senate with the Patriot Act expiration deadline looming at midnight Sunday, Hayden said “I think it’s really unfortunate.”

Host Chris Wallace asked, “So you are troubled?” Hayden replied, “Yeah.”

“Let’s assume, and it seems likely, all of these programs expire at midnight, if only for a few days. the NSA’s collection of phone records goes dark, so does the roving wiretap authority to track a target as he switches phones, perhaps one phone to another to avoid detection, and the lone wolf provision which allows investigating individuals who are not linked to a terror group,” Wallace asked. “How seriously is the former head of the NSA, former head of the CIA, how seriously does this jeopardize our national security? Is the country potentially in greater danger of a terrorist attack because we will not have these capabilities?”

Hayden answered, “Absolutely, and why would a reasonable people take off the table tools that I believe are lawful, and around which there’s already a political consensus. If the vote goes forward, Chris, most of these things go on. Why would we give up things, as professionals say, to keep us  safer.”

He added, “These are parts of a thread, parts of a fabric. None of these are a silver bullet. This is the problem people like me have explaining this to the American people. You know intelligence is fundamentally boring. It’s not what you see on evening television. It’s piece by piece, thread by thread you’re giving up threads. It may not make a difference for a while. Then again, it might. Over the longer term, I’m willing to wager, Chris, it will, indeed, make a difference. As you pointed out in your setup, we’re more at risk today from internal actors than we have been at any time since 9/11.”

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