Amazing quotes from former NSA and CIA boss Michael Hayden on Snowden and China

A master of espionage and water metaphors
A master of espionage and water metaphors
Image: AP/Lawrence Jackson
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Former CIA and NSA boss Michael Hayden has given a remarkably candid interview with the Australian Financial Review, directly accusing Chinese telecommunications company Huawei of spying for Beijing, condemning Edward Snowden’s unprecedented leaks and comparing China’s espionage efforts to Germany’s unrestricted submarine warfare during World War I. It’s an interview worth reading in full, but here are a few key excerpts: Giving China its due

I understand the Chinese espionage effort against the West. As an intelligence professional, I stand back in awe at the breadth, depth, sophistication and persistence of the Chinese espionage campaign against the West.

The difference between American “espionage” and Chinese “spying”

Listen, I fully admit: we steal other country’s secrets. And frankly we’re quite good at it. But the reason we steal these secrets is to keep our citizens free, and to keep them safe. We don’t steal secrets to make our citizens rich. Yet this is exactly what the Chinese do. I believe the Chinese today are engaging in unrestricted espionage against the West that is comparable to the unrestricted submarine warfare waged by Imperial Germany in 1916.

Saying what “goes without saying” on Huawei

God did not make enough briefing slides on Huawei to convince me that having them involved in our critical communications infrastructure was going to be okay. This is not blind prejudice on my part. This was my considered view based on a four-decade career as an intelligence officer. At a minimum, Huawei would have shared with the Chinese state intimate and extensive knowledge of the foreign telecommunications systems it is involved with. I think that goes without saying.

How to think about Edward Snowden 

The Snowden leaks have the potential, if not already the reality, to be the most single most destructive leak of American security information in our history. Snowden is attempting to reveal the underlying architecture of the US intelligence gathering network. We’ve lost cups of water before. We’ve lost buckets of water. Yet this is a guy who is exposing the very plumbing that pipes the information.