Former National Security Agency chief Michael Hayden on Monday downplayed the possibility that the Obama administration might offer a plea bargain to Edward Snowden

He made the comments at a lecture at Oxford University, just a few weeks after Attorney General Eric Holder suggested he’d be open to having a conversation with Snowden. 

"There have been arrangements, but I do not think there is a lot of enthusiasm inside the US for that kind of deal [in the case of Snowden]," Hayden said, according to The Guardian newspaper. 


The former NSA contractor has been living in Russia under temporary asylum since August.

Hayden, who has defended the NSA’s programs, said at the lecture that President Obama’s proposed reforms are limited and cosmetic, allowing the intelligence agencies “a pretty big box” to continue collecting information. 

"I guess what I am saying is this president, who most people view as being quite different than his predecessor, doubled down on a program being done under his predecessor. He gave the American intelligence community a pretty big box," Hayden said.

"The president is essentially trading some restraint, some oversight, in order to keep on doing fundamentally what he has been doing." 

He also accused newspapers like The Guardian, The Washington Post and Der Spiegel of hyping the issues, the report notes. 

"I freely admit that what these writers and writers like them have done has accelerated a necessary and frankly inevitable discussion.”

Hayden ran the NSA from 1999-2004 and now works as a principal at security consulting firm The Chertoff Group.