Former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden said Sunday that President Obama’s speech on the agency’s controversial intelligence-gathering programs revealed that he had “embraced” the basic surveillance structure favored by former President George W. Bush.
“He is willing to shave points off of flexibility, add administrative burdens, add oversight, but the objective, Chris, is to keep on doing what he's doing."
In a speech from the Justice Department on Friday, Obama said he would now require intelligence agencies to obtain judicial approval before reviewing databases of information about telephone calls.
He also ordered members of his administration to figure out a way to end the federal collection of the phone records. While the president has said that he doesn't want the government to compile the records because of the risk of abuse, he also said that alternative proposals — having the data held by telephone companies or a third party — carried their own drawbacks and "pose difficult problems."
But Hayden’s said Obama’s proposed reforms would “fundamentally preserve” the controversial intelligence programs.
“He's going to cut back on some capacities -— he hopes at the margins — cutting into agility a bit, putting administrative burdens on; that could be risky, but it looks like he's going to accept that risk in order to fundamentally preserve the programs,” Hayden said.