Former director of the US National Security Agency (NSA) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Michael Hayden, believes people in the UK are "more tolerant" of the actions taken by security and intelligence services as compared to US citizens. Speaking on the fourth day of the Hay Festival on Sunday (29 May), Hayden said that changes in security services were happening faster in the US than in UK.
He also spoke on diverse topics including CIA torture, targeted killings, Edward Snowden and Facebook during his address at the annual literature and arts festival in Wales.
Hayden explained that in his country, there is a greater demand from people for transparency in the intelligence services, but that is not the case in the UK. "You as a population are far more tolerant of aggressive action on the part of your intelligence services than we are in the United States," The Guardian quoted Haydenas saying at the fest.
Citing Snowden's exposure of classified intelligence information, Hayden explained why he termed the whistleblower as "naive and narcissistic" in his newly-published book and wrote that Snowden "highlighted the need for a broad cultural shift" in terms of transparency and transparency policies.
"The 2% of what Snowden revealed that had to do with privacy accelerated a necessary conversation. The other 98% was about how the US and foreign governments collected legitimate material ... that was incredibly damaging," Hayden said, adding that unlike in the US where Snowden's revelations accelerated the debate on transparency requirements, the issue did not "hit the beach here in Great Britain".
Further in his address, Hayden talked about why people generously share private information on Facebook, but not with the government agencies like NSA or CIA. He said people have been protecting their information from the government as it was always "the traditional threat", but that habit is now changing.
"With regard to the 21st-century definition of reasonable privacy, Mark Zuckerberg [the CEO and co-founder of Facebook] is probably going to have a greater influence on [the habit] than your or my government because of the rules we will embed inside his Facebook applications," he explained.
Moving on to targeted killings of terrorists by the US, Hayden said UK has also joined the "queue" after the killing of Jihadi John. He further said that Islam was going through the same internal crisis that Christianity went through in the 17th century. "We are not the target, we are collateral damage. What has happened in Paris, in Brussels ... is spillage," he remarked.