Former CIA director says Rand Paul and critics of NSA programs don't see the big picture

06/12/2013 07:17 AM

The National Security Agency programs that collect phone and Internet data should have remained secret to keep Americans safe, and those who are calling for warrants in order for law enforcement to access that data are wrong, said a former CIA director.

R. James Woolsey, who served as CIA director for President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1995, said the NSA programs revealed to the public this month by a private contractor were essential tools to root out terror plots.

“If you’re trying to defeat someone who is trying to kill you, which the terrorists certainly are, why would those details need to be known? … Why isn’t the procedure that the Congress has devised along with the White House and the courts — why isn’t it adequate? What’s wrong with it?” Woolsey asked.

Paul has said what’s wrong with the procedures is that they violate Americans’ constitutional rights. He says a judge should sign off on a warrant after being shown just cause to access such phone and Internet data.

“People are not turning over any rights by having voted for congressmen who passed this law. They’re not turning over any rights to the substance of what they say in a telephone call let’s say, to be used by the government or disclosed in any way,” Woolsey said (0:30 of the interview).

Woolsey said the system set up by Congress and Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama requires a secret warrant if the NSA does want to obtain the content of a phone call.

And he said the programs appear to have working the way they should have been and don’t need to be altered (3:00). However, he said that their disclosure have given terrorists an unnecessary advantage.

“I think it makes it much easier for the terrorists to understand why they should not use some communications modes,” Woolsey said (2:00).

That raises the question of why Edward Snowden, a lower-level employee with Booz Allen Hamilton, and nearly five million others were allowed security clearance that gave them access to such information. Woolsey is a former vice president for Booz Allen Hamilton and he answered questions about that at 6:30 of the video:


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