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Hayden's comments on key issues

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Gen. Hayden makes a point during the hearing.

Gen. Michael Hayden answered a wide range of questions Thursday at the Senate Intelligence Committee. Click on a topic for excerpts of what he said on key issues.

Accountability
Eavesdropping
Effects of leaks
Iraq intelligence failures
Right to privacy
Sharing intelligence

Accountability

Accountability is one thing and a very valuable thing, and we will have it. But true accountability is not served by inaccurate, harmful or illegal public disclosures.

I will draw a clear line between what we owe the American public by way of openness and what must remain secret in order for us to continue to do our job. CIA needs to get out of the news as source or subject and focus on protecting the American people by acquiring secrets and providing high-quality all-source analysis.

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Eavesdropping

They're targeting al Qaeda. There is a probable cause standard. Every targeting is documented. There is a literal target folder that explains the rationale and the answers to the questions on a very lengthy checklist as to why this particular number, we believe, to be associated with the enemy ...

And to the best of my knowledge, the folks out there are batting 1,000. No one has said that there has been a targeting decision made that wasn't well-founded in a probable cause standard.

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Effects of leaks

I mean, you can actually see this -- and now I'm speaking globally, about disclosures of our tactics, techniques, procedures, sources and methods.

It's almost Darwinian. The more we put out there, the more we're going to kill and capture dumb terrorists... [not the smart ones, who will know how to avoid it.]

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Iraq intelligence failures

We just took too much for granted. We didn't challenge our basic assumptions.

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Right to privacy

There are privacy concerns with everything that we do, of course. We always balance privacy and security, and we do it within the law.

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Sharing intelligence

There's always a risk. And the more transparent you are, the more you may reveal and thereby compromise sources and methods -- the same dynamic at Langley.

At NSA, it's a little easier, maybe, to start pushing against the shoulders of the envelope here and get a little bit more risk-embracing because, as you know, if NSA oversteps and got a little too bold in sharing, at the end of the day, what they lose is a frequency. If CIA gets a little too bold in sharing, at the end of the day, there could be real personal tragedy involved.

And so, although the approaches will be similar, I do understand that the protection of human sources might be a bit different than the protection of signal intelligence sources.

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