On balancing security and liberty, the retired director of the NSA Michael Hayden, who installed and still defends the controversial surveillance program to collect telephone metadata on millions of Americans, says "What we're trying to do here is what free people and this free people have done since the inception of the republic, which is to balance two things, both of which are virtues: our security and our privacy. There are no permanent answers to that. We debate them continuously based on the totality of circumstances in which we find ourselves. The point I make to our countrymen: This is not a struggle between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. This is a good people, trying to find the right balance."
In the specific case regarding the San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone, Hayden noted that he's trending towards the side of the government. Focusing on this case alone, Hayden stated that "the burden of proof is on Apple."
In the larger picture however, Hayden is somewhat opposed to 'Universal' back doors in software as he worded it in his CBS interview earlier today.
Hayden told USA TODAY, "Look, I used to run the NSA, OK? Back doors are good. Please, please, Lord, put back doors in, because I and a whole bunch of other talented security services around the world — even though that back door was not intended for me — that back door will make it easier for me to do what I want to do, which is to penetrate. ...
But when you step back and look at the whole question of American security and safety writ large, we are a safer, more secure nation without back doors," he says. With them, "a lot of other people would take advantage of it."
And yet with that said, after 9/11 Hayden justified what he had to do to keep Americans safe with his controversial surveillance program, and couldn't have cared less what the public thought on the matter at the time. But now he's selling a book, so he's playing it safe.
CBS called him out on that as well. One of the CBS reporters said to Hayden: "You also say in the book that when it comes to National Security and protecting our privacy and our lives, sometimes you have to go right to the edge and do whatever it takes. So is it a bit of a contradiction?"
Hayden's response: "No, I get it. That's why I said this is a perpetual gray area. These are never easy choices. But there are lines. I do say playing to the edge and you should not go beyond a certain point. And my judgement in this particular case is that universal back doors, although it may facilitate American law enforcement for very good purposes, on balance, actually are an overall negative for American security. Not just American privacy.
While both agreed that the Comey vs. Cook PR game playing out in the media over the last week hasn't helped cool matters down, it's pretty clear that until the court rules on March 22 the PR game is unlikely to end.