April 26th, 2013
04:18 PM ET

Have we got the privacy-safety balance right?

Watch the full interview on "Fareed Zakaria GPS," this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

Fareed speaks with Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and National Security Agency, about tackling terrorism in the wake of the Boston attack.

Suppose you have a few of these people and they get radicalized on the Internet and they learn how to make this stuff through Inspire magazine or other...


There's lots of information on the Internet outside of al Qaeda sites. Is there something you could do? You ran the National Security Agency…


You can eavesdrop on conversations.


What could you do?

Look, there are probably things you could do on the margin that reduce the odds of this a bit, but I've taken to describing our efforts out here like this. And they’re good enough now that those things that used to really frighten us – 9/11, World Trade Center I, airliners over the Atlantic – very, very unlikely.

Now what have you got? You’ve got Boston. You’ve got Little Rock. You’ve got Najibullah Zazi trying to come here to New York. And now the question I ask the American public as an intelligence officer, “So what do you want me to do with my arm?”

I mean, I can push it down a bit. I can buy you marginally more safety. But at what cost? At what cost in your privacy? At what cost in your comfort, what cost in your convenience, at what cost in your commerce?

These are all very serious questions and the folks inside the American intelligence community will respond to the public. They’ll do what you tell them to do. But as a citizen, my judgment is that’s about where we want it to be. If you push this down much further, we do what I’ve said we haven't done to date, which is we begin to change our DNA as a free people.

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soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Hahahahahahah

    According to the Illuminati....not quite yet. Just elect more republicans to take MORE of our privacy away and then we'll be closer!!! Hahahaahahhaha

    April 26, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Reply
    • jon

      Divide and conquer is a good way to manipulate people. Maybe you should look at everyone's privacy record and not just the republicans. Oh, that's right, you have no reason to suspect your own party...

      April 30, 2013 at 7:58 pm | Reply
  2. rightospeak

    Free people ? Privacy ??? What is that ? Ha, ha , ha above is about right .Mr. Hayden is protecting his retirement or maybe his life to say otherwise , but he knows it is all b.s.- no doubt a very intelligent man. Unless there are people with some courage to tell the truth, the enslavement will be complete soon.

    April 26, 2013 at 5:27 pm | Reply
  3. deniz boro

    No more than what your therapist would give. Other than "what you think about it?" But I came to rely on the Turkish part of this "secret" arena. They do some work. At least in Turkey. And keep their months shut in other areas. Hey man they are not your protectors and parent or else after all. They are just silent watchers. Thats all. I hope.

    April 27, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Reply
  4. JAL

    Having worked at a Defense Contractor for many years, I can say one thing about this subject: Cooperate, and show willingness to cooperate and they will leave you alone. Nobody wants their time wasted.

    April 27, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Reply
  5. j. von hettlingen

    Michael Hayden suggested incidents like the Boston bomgings would be quite inevitable in the future and that we would have to adjust oursevles and sacrifice our values and freedoms for inconveniences.
    Look at Israel, the people adapt themselves pretty well to the hostile environment. They don't let themselves be terrorised by their neighbours in the Gaza Strip and else where.

    April 29, 2013 at 10:27 am | Reply
    • Washington Nearsider

      No, they don't let themselves be terrorized. They fight back, they bomb, they launch rocket and missile attacks.

      And they are actively despised throughout the world PRECISELY because they defend themselves instead of cowering in fear.

      April 29, 2013 at 12:10 pm | Reply
    • drowlord

      The world (except the USA) sees Israel in pretty much the same way the world (except China) sees North Korea. Without a world power backing up Israel, they'd vanish in a wink. With UN trade sanctions, starved of money, starved of weapons, and starved of political support, they'd be helpless against the nations around them.

      April 30, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Reply
      • John Johnson

        Lets see, in 1947 when Isreal declared their independance 7 Arab armies invaded. Isreal managed to destroy most of them on their own and were headed to Damascus when the U.N. and the U.S. stopped them. Destroyed in a flash, I would think again if I were you!

        May 1, 2013 at 1:42 am |
  6. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Twenty five more people dead today in Iraq as a result of bombings. Add that to the Bush library. Liberty and freedom for Sunnis and Shiites? Yeh right! At least Saddam knew why he needed to rule with an iron fist and terrorise the masses into submission. Furthermore, to invade a country during strife to bring about peace is one thing but to invade and destabilize a country at peace time is the worst kind of war atrocity and is no different to what Hitler did. That's why GWB should be detained in the Hague. But instead they gave the tyrant and war criminal a library. Outrageous!

    April 29, 2013 at 11:26 am | Reply
    • ug

      Keep crying little girl...

      April 29, 2013 at 7:32 pm | Reply
  7. Jerry Okamura

    Is it a question of what you could do, or is it a question of what you should do?

    April 29, 2013 at 11:58 am | Reply
  8. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Let's have background checks for immigrants who buy pressure cookers and ignore background checks for Americans who use assault weapons to commit mass murder. Dumb American politicians!

    April 29, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Reply
    • John Johnson

      None of the individuals who commited these crimes had gone thru the proper background check to buy them. They either lied or they were stolen. Criminal don't buy guns legally anyway!

      May 1, 2013 at 1:44 am | Reply
  9. Frank

    When someone asks me "do you fear terriosts" I say yes but I fear our Government even more than them.

    April 29, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Reply
    • Lisa

      Very wise reply. I like you, Frank!

      April 29, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Reply
    • allenwoll

      . . . and I fear YOUR types most of all ! ! !

      April 29, 2013 at 5:48 pm | Reply
    • Ted

      Roosevelt: All we have to fear is fear itself
      Obama: You should be scared

      April 30, 2013 at 12:33 am | Reply
  10. lweba

    Why don't you hack the Al Qaeda web sites? You have the best hackers languishing in your jails, give them the assignment and tell them if they succeed they win their freedom!

    April 29, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Reply
  11. ug

    I have saftey in my pvivate residence and no stupid libs are around...

    April 29, 2013 at 7:26 pm | Reply
  12. Joel

    Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety

    April 29, 2013 at 9:31 pm | Reply
  13. North Dallas Don

    As long as we keep electing Republicans we can keep kissing our privacy goodbye.

    April 30, 2013 at 6:32 am | Reply
    • predictor

      The Democrats, particularly the one in the White House, have also found it politically expedient to deny the liberties of citizens. I think you'd be hard-pressed to make the case that this is exclusively a Republican problem.

      April 30, 2013 at 8:14 am | Reply
      • allenwoll

        One's personal Liberty and Freedom do NOT include the right to unilaterally or unsymetrically impact the personal Liberty and Freedom of another.
        Now, given that, just how much Liberty and Freedom can individually exist or be exercised ? ?
        Most of the discussions on this topic are led by those indulging in purveying fantasies of one style or another for their OWN purposes - Purposes seldom of benefit or importance to the general public.

        April 30, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
  14. predictor

    While there is a legitimate debate about the balance of privacy (and civil liberties in general) versus security, a fair number of policies (especially those enacted during the knee-jerk response to 9/11) remove privacy without actually adding security. I submit that, before we even get to the philosophical discussion about necessary trade-offs, it would be advantageous to pick the low-hanging fruit by eliminating feel-good security theater which serves the interests of only politicians and "security" merchandise vendors.

    April 30, 2013 at 8:12 am | Reply
    • TiredOfPaying

      Ah, but it serves others as well. Those who want to control us, keep us on our little paths and make us good sheep. That's the reason you'll never see ANY of the post-9/11 laws revoked. Now that they have stripped our rights away 'so that they can protect us' they have lowered our expectations of privacy. Do you honestly think that the Powers That Be will willingly stop peeping into our bedrooms and lives?

      April 30, 2013 at 9:47 am | Reply
  15. John Deatherage

    ALL Governments when given this choice opt for more control over it's citizens. It's not about safety, it's about control. Power corrupts....

    April 30, 2013 at 9:11 am | Reply
  16. johnny316

    sounds to a discussion on why privacy is a cost/commodity to us. what makes privacy worth something? is fear of information being misused/interpreted? if that's the case, i would guess integrity would need to be discussed, regularly, on the person who has access to the information that is private. or maybe we all need to learn integrity in handling other people's information. hopefully, the phase of misuse of personal information is over, and those individual who once managed that sector are gone, or have learned that it only damages our country. well, i'm willing to pay the cost for safety, but only if we have people with integrity and respect managing the sector.

    April 30, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Reply
  17. Annie

    The obvious answer – No, we do not.

    May 1, 2013 at 12:04 am | Reply

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