Ex-spy chief: Paul's attacks on NSA 'unfortunate'

Ex-spy chief: Paul's attacks on NSA 'unfortunate'

Former National Security Agency (NSA) Director Michael Hayden said on Sunday that Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulCNN catches heat for asking candidates about Ellen, Bush friendship at debate Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Trump isolated amid Syria furor | Pompeo, Pence to visit Turkey in push for ceasefire | Turkish troops advance in Syria | Graham throws support behind Trump's sanctions Rand Paul rips Lindsey Graham: 'Wrong about almost every foreign policy decision' MORE (R-Ky.) is not helping America’s safety by criticizing the National Security Administration (NSA).

“I think it’s really unfortunate,” Hayden told host Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”

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The former NSA director added that Paul’s critiques have distorted the debate over potentially renewing the Patriot Act and the intelligence measures it authorizes.

“We get to draw the line all the time between liberty and security,” said Hayden, also a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

“Let’s do it based on facts,” he said.

“Why would we give up things that the professionals say make us safer?” Hayden asked.

“If you’re asking me what I would do in a perfect world, I’d reauthorize the Patriot Act,” he told Wallace.

The Senate will conduct a rare night session on Sunday in an attempt to reauthorize sections of the Patriot Act before the expires at midnight.

Paul has argued the law’s intelligence provisions constitute government overreach and violate citizens’ privacy.

Hayden said on Sunday that Paul has made discussion over the NSA’s bulk, warrantless collection of individual phone records much more dramatic than it actually is.

“Intelligence is fundamentally boring,” he said. “It’s not what you see on TV at night. It is just piece-by-piece, thread-by-thread.”

Hayden added that Paul’s concerns over the constitutional basis of the NSA’s actions are also unwarranted.

“We are not talking about a constitutional matter,” Hayden said of NSA metadata collecting.

“We have no reasonable expectation of privacy there,” he said of phone metadata. “We might be talking about a legal matter.”

Congress has wrestled with potentially approving the USA Freedom Act instead of renewing sections of the Patriot Act instead.

That compromise would end the NSA’s phone records collection while reauthorizing less-controversial counterterrorism and intelligence measures contained in the Patriot Act.

“Clearly, Chris, that is the best political solution out there right now,” Hayden told Wallace, referring to the USA Freedom Act.