ASPEN, Colo.—When I learned that former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden would be interviewed here on the subject, "National Security 2024: What Might Liberty Look Like?" I made sure to arrive early and secure a front row seat. Interviewer Andrew Ross Sorkin quickly brought up Edward Snowden. "Actually, at NSA," Hayden said, "he is referred to as the one who will not be named."
He wasn't joking.
In the ensuing exchange, Hayden argued that the phone dragnet, which gathers metadata on virtually every telephone call made by Americans, is democratically legitimate, and that Snowden is the one who transgressed against representative democracy.
"That program has been approved by two presidents—I should add, somewhat different presidents," he said. "It has been legislated by both branches of Congress, by bipartisan majorities, and reauthorized. It's overseen by the federal court system in the FISA court. If Jimmy Madison were here, he'd call that the federalist trifecta. You have all three co-equal, competing branches of government going check, check, check." But young people today aren't satisfied, he marveled. "The cultural shift is that a lot of people in your generation say that what I just described to you no longer constitutes the consent of the governed, because, all right, you told all those [inaudible] but you didn't tell me. That's a very different formula for representative democracy. What we're seeing in Snowden ... is a really big deal in how we decide as a people to create consent of the governed."