Gen. Michael Hayden, a former director of the National Security Agency, tells NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday that the government's acquisition of phone records and surveillance of Internet activity is lawful and justified by the changing nature of the war on terrorism.
Hayden, who served as NSA chief from 1999-2005 and is also a former CIA director, says NSA's activities are "perfectly legal" and "an accurate reflection of balancing our security and our privacy."
In the past several days, there's been a steady flow of leaks about the National Security Agency and its secret surveillance activities, including the gathering of metadata on domestic and foreign telephone calls and the existence of PRISM, described in media reports as a top-secret data-mining program.
New developments are occurring on a daily basis. Here are a few we're watching right now:
For more on the political repercussions of all of this, we are joined now by NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Good morning, Mara. Mara.
MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi, Rachel.
MARTIN: So, we heard the director of National Intelligence last night in a statement, say that - and I'm reading here: The surveillance activities published in the Guardian and the Washington Post are lawful and conducted under authorities widely known and discussed, and fully debated and authorized by Congress.
The intelligence leaks brought about the latest round of political sniping this past week. But the controversy has also united two unlikely allies. On Friday, President Obama defended his administration's policies. He said, quote, "Nobody is listening to your telephone calls. That's not what this program is about."
Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator of South Carolina, found himself in the unusual position of agreeing with the White House. Here he is on Fox News.