A former US spy chief has spoken out about WikiLeaks' release of alleged Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents, claiming the US federal government may be suffering due to cultural differences between old spymasters and fresh-faced "millennials".
This week (7 March), the whistleblowing website published a cache of over 8,000 documents apparently from an expert CIA cyber unit, detailing computer network exploitation and malware-based hacking tools. In an analysis, WikiLeaks indicated a rogue insider was the source.
"In order to do this kind of stuff [intelligence work] we have to recruit from a certain demographic," Michael Hayden, who has served as both the head of the CIA and NSA, told the BBC in an interview, responding to a question about the source of the leak.
"I don't mean to judge them at all, but this group of millennials and related groups simply have different understandings of the words loyalty, secrecy and transparency than certainly my generation did," he continued.
"Culturally they have different instincts than the people who made the decision to hire them," Hayden added. "We may be running into this different cultural approach that we saw with Chelsea Manning, with Edward Snowden and now, perhaps, with a third actor."
The CIA has not yet confirmed the authenticity of the leaked data. If proved legitimate, it contains information about methods used to attack software and operating systems including Apple iOS, Google Android and internet-connected Samsung televisions.
According to Hayden, the publication has the potential to make the US and its allies "less safe". He said: "If what I have read is true then this seems to be an incredibly damaging leak in terms of the tactics, techniques, procedures and tools that were used by the CIA to conduct legitimate foreign intelligence."
In a separate interview with MSNBC, he questioned the motive of WikiLeaks.
"This is about foreign intelligence collection, it doesn't invoke the privacy rights of Americans," he said. "Isn't it surprising that WikiLeaks, this transparency engine, seems to be focused only on transparency about the USA and its friends, not totalitarian regimes around the world."
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, has called the full release the "largest intelligence publication in history" and has promised more disclosures are incoming. After spotting the YouTube video of the clip, WikiLeaks publicly accused the former intel chief of "blaming millennials" for the leaky agency.
At the time of writing, the source of the stolen information remains unknown.
See the video clip below: