Fareed speaks with President Obama's first director of National Intelligence, now retired Naval Admiral Dennis Blair, about the NSA surveillance program. Watch the full interview at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.
Do you understand the kind of anger that this has generated around the world and in the United States, because there's a sense that the NSA – and it is really about the NSA – has this technological capacity to look into almost anything, anyone's phone calls, anyone's emails. And the response of the intelligence community seems to be, well, trust us. We're not going to do anything really silly with this.
I do believe, and I tried when I was Director of National Intelligence, to talk more openly about this program. I think we can do that without talking about specific details, which are what have to be kept secret. And I think that this administration has done a bad job of explaining it. And had we done it from an early stage, from the time that I was DNI on, then these revelations would have been less shocking.
I think a couple of things are worth mentioning, though. The scale of these programs is large because the scale of communications is large. And there are billions of phone calls, emails, tweets and other forms of communication being made all over the world.
So in order to try to find ones that are being made by those hostile to the United States, it will require big programs, large computers, lots of data. So that simply is a question of scale, not a question of principle.
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