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Ex-NSA Chief Talks About President Obama, Edward Snowden And Angry Birds

Leading Authorities
Gen. Michael Hayden, former head of the National Security Agency and the CIA, speaks Tuesday in Dallas.

Two years before 9/11, Michael Hayden took the top job at the National Security Agency. He spent the next decade at the top of the nation's intelligence structure and presided over a data-collection revolution.

Hayden's a security consultant now, and he'll be speaking in Dallas at noon Tuesday: It's part of the University of North Texas' Kuehne Speaker Series on National Security. (Tuesday's speech is sold out.) He took a break in his busy international travel schedule for this week's Friday Conversation.

  Interview Highlights: Michael Hayden On...

  • President Obama's plans for a reboot of the NSA's data collection operation: "There is a sentence or two inside the report by those five outside experts in which they said we’re not just focused on any real abuses, but we must take into account the perception of potential abuses. The President’s trying to do it, I wish he didn’t have to, but I certainly understand why he’s doing it. What he is doing will make our intelligence processes a little less agile, a little less comprehensive, a bit slower. Everyone needs to understand, you’re trading safety, for comfort. You’re trading security for confidence in the system."

  • Reported data breaches in the Angry Birds app: "The most recent story had to do with Angry Birds, that it’s a leaky app and pulls all this information off your iPhone and the NSA has the capability to take that information that Angry Birds has taken off your cell phone and use it for foreign intelligence purposes. The way the story is pretty much written it’s, NSA is attacking your Angry Birds app on your phone, which is not true. It is for foreign intelligence purposes against a legitimate foreign intelligence target that uses leaky apps like Google Maps or Angry Birds to intercept those signals in a lawful way and use them against legitimate intelligence targets."

  • NSA leaker Edward Snowden's nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize: "This man has created the most destructive hemorrhaging of legitimate American secrets in the history of the American republic. And he’s done it out of a sense of arrogance and moral superiority that his judgment trumps the judgment of two Presidents, both houses of Congress, the American court system and 35,000 of his co-workers."
Rick Holter was KERA's vice president of news. He oversaw news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.