A terror attack like the bombing of the Boston Marathon would never have happened in New York City, according to former CIA Director Michael Hayden.
Hayden, who also headed the National Security Agency, said the New York police department’s expansive spying on the city’s Muslim communities would have helped officials to identify the radical tendencies of the alleged bombers and prevent the attack.
“The New York police department is far more aggressive, far more invasive, going what’s been termed ‘mosque crawling’ and a whole bunch of other things to permeate the Islamic-American community. Boston doesn’t do that,” he continued.
“The probability that these two young [men’s] — particularly the older one, Tamerlan [Tsarnaev] — behavior shows up on the scope in New York is much higher than it was in Boston.”
The Justice Department has accused Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev of detonating two bombs near the finish line of the world-famous marathon last month, killing three people and wounding more than 200 others. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police as they closed in on the brothers in the days after the attack.
His brother Dzhokhar is in custody and has been charged in the bombing.
The NYPD has been under high scrutiny after the Associated Press revealed that it has been surreptitiously tracking movements and monitoring conversations of Muslims in New York City for more than six years.
But Hayden said he was not arguing for implementing the NYPD’s practices on a national level, the possibility of which he said was “very frightening.” Rather, Hayden called for better addressing the balance between privacy and security.
U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies have stepped up security efforts tremendously since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, minimizing the likelihood of another large-scale attack, he said. But American officials are now debating what more can be done to secure the public’s safety from smaller scale attacks.
Hayden argued that there is not much more the government and law enforcement officials can do that would still maintain the civil liberties and personal freedoms that define America.
And Americans, he said, need to accept the consequences of that: the "inevitable" nature of another terror attack.
“We’ve already squeezed American privacy, American commerce, American convenience,” said Hayden. “My personal view is: we’re just about okay. I don’t know that I can promise you any more dramatic returns for doing more to make this kind of attack less likely.”
“In order to preserve our way of life, our DNA as a free people, we’re all going to agree that sooner or later something down here is going to happen.”