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Dan would -- terror threat that has prompted the State Department to issue a global travel alert for all Americans.
And a close almost two dozen embassies and consulates across the Muslim world.
We're told the al-Qaeda threat is specific but the targets are not chief Washington correspondent James Rosen has the latest -- Chris good morning President Obama and his national security team approach this day the president's 52 birthday.
Not a state of celebration but rather one of apprehension.
The US embassy compound in Cairo Egypt is one of nearly two dozen US installations.
That would normally have been open today but is now closed at the US embassy in Yemen heightened security was readily discernible.
A senior lawmaker told Fox News the terrorist chatter picked up by US signals intelligence exceeds anything witnessed in more than a decade.
Lisa Monaco the president's counterterrorism advisor and Susan Rice now the president's national security advisor have led the interagency response.
Rice chaired a principals committee meeting yesterday that included among others the secretaries of state and defense and the directors of the FB IC IA and NSA.
Still another participant in that session told ABC news that the plotting appears aimed at western not just American interests.
It is more specific and we -- taking it seriously.
Which I think you'd expect us to do -- there there is it's a significant stretcher in and we're reacting.
The latest threat will likely revive americans' memories of the scary second week of September last year.
When islamists -- at three dozen western embassies from Europe to South Asia.
And which culminated of course in the fatal attack on the US consulate and annex in Ben -- It is possible we may have additional days of closing as well of course depending on our analysis.
Individual US embassies and consulates I will announce whether or not they -- -- -- and whether they are implementing restrictions or other.
Shooters President Obama is at Camp David this morning returning to the White House later today and said to be receiving regular briefings on the al-Qaeda threat and our response Chris.
James Rosen starting off our coverage today that terror alert comes as Russia has granted an -- Laker Edwards Snowden temporary asylum.
And there are growing demands and congress to impose new limits on the government's surveillance of Americans.
Joining us -- to discuss all this in New York general Michael Hayden former head of the NSA and the CI yet.
And here in Washington Republican congressman Justin Hamas of Michigan who led an effort to restrict the NSA's data collection general based on.
Your long experience what's going on here with the US closing almost two dozen embassies and consulates have -- The Middle East and also this extraordinary global travel alert for all of August.
And what does it say about our standing now in the middle it.
Well Chris as you know a lot of governments from.
I'm not reading any of the cables but I can only imagine what it is what it would have taken a while I was in government.
In terms of the stack of evidence it would have been required.
For our government to take the kinds of action to you and James just described.
And so this does look quite serious the only thing we're missing as both of you suggested is -- geography.
And therefore we're taking it.
Caution and warning folks all the way between Algeria.
And Bangladesh they make clearly this is a serious thing and it.
-- also -- points out that this al-Qaeda in danger is not yet over.
And at least elements of al-Qaeda are not yet totally on the run.
I was gonna ask you about that does this show that al-Qaeda is stronger than President Obama.
Has led us to believe over the last year or so and in a sense is there are.
A danger that by reacting the way we have as you say closing facilities from Algeria Bangladesh that it only empowers -- Well that's a -- to doing business tonight and I understand the argument that it it it seems to as you say empower them more than perhaps.
They're they're really capable of performing.
On the other hand you have a real danger to Americans.
You want to be cautious in.
Let me -- an additional factor in here Chris.
-- -- -- itself may also be designed to interrupt al-Qaeda planning to put them off stride.
To put them on the back foot -- let them know.
But we're alert and they were on at least to a portion of this.
Plot line congressman -- -- how do you see the closing of our embassy's diplomatic facilities across the Muslim world as a sensible response or as an overreaction.
Well I don't have any more facts then anyone else here and I think the administration need to take whatever steps it deems appropriate.
But it's precisely because we live in this dangerous world that we need protections like the Fourth Amendment of the constitution.
The framers of the constitution put it in place precisely because they're worried that you have national security justification for violating people's rights.
They -- worry that the government was gonna say.
Well we -- to come to your home to host tonight's dinner party or we want your papers because we want to find some recipes they're worried about.
Our national security justification for violating people's rights and in a dangerous world you need the Fourth Amendment you need the constitution.
-- we're gonna get to the heart of this debate about the NSA and whether or not that should be restrictions in a moment let me ask you first congressman about the other big news development this week.
That of course is Russia granting temporary asylum to the NSA -- -- Snowden.
Pat when he gives up.
Secrets to other countries.
Programs that been improved by the president approved by congress approved and overseen by the courts.
Is he a whistle blower because -- since adjusted he has as -- whistle blower or -- Well we don't know all the facts about what he's doing overseas and what kind of information he's given up but I certainly think that -- -- without.
His doing what he did members of congress would not have really known about it.
There is allegations that this information was given to congress of course congress passed the Patriot Act they passed the -- amendments act.
But members of congress were not really aware.
-- the hole about what these programs were being used for the extent to which they're being used.
Members of the intelligence committee we're told but members who are rank and file members really didn't have the information.
So you can still considerable whistle yes.
Because well he he he can mean he had signed a note he had said he wasn't -- give up these secrets and -- gave up the secrets yet.
He as I said he may be doing things overseas that we -- -- problematic that we find dangerous we'll find those facts out over time.
But as far as congress is concerned sure he's whistleblower he told us what we need to know.
General Hayden it isn't just congressman on March according to a new poll 55%.
Not regard -- Snowden as a whistle blower not as a trader.
Couple of questions one.
Are they wrong and secondly in your mind how tough should President Obama gap with Russian -- -- Vladimir Putin now that they have given -- -- -- -- -- first of all Chris put me in the 45%.
In that poll -- does not believe he's not a whistle blower at all look a whistle blower is someone.
Who raises concerns with in our government in order to affect change there is no evidence whatsoever.
That this young man award to anyone.
Went to his supervisor his supervisors lost even went to the congressman no evidence of that whatsoever.
What he did was go to Glenn Greenwald and some other news outlets and publish information that.
In his own conscience believe we need to be concerned about.
But what he did was not tell the appropriate authorities he told the world including our enemies and he's made it more difficult.
For our security services to keep America safe.
Now with regard.
Tethered to the Russians I think I agree with the senator from New York it's a a bit of a slap in the face I know the administration is reconsidering the visit in Moscow after the G-20 with President Putin frankly I don't think President Obama should go and maybe just betrays my own personal background Chris -- I think it's a jump ball where they should go to Saint Petersburg for the G-20 at all.
Let's get because you -- I've been on the fringes of that let's get directly into this question of the NSA what it's doing whether there should be new limits.
General that the house almost passed as you well now last week a measure authored by congressman Hamas.
That would have put an end of the kind of blanket collection of phone records of all Americans and instead.
Limit that only to information on Americans were under specific investigation for links to terrorism on a practical level general.
-- -- -- -- Strong you -- Chris if it would have turned the program on it said look this isn't.
This isn't -- this program the meta data program that we're talking about here is -- about targeting Americans.
It's about trying to divine trying to decide with the lightest touch possible.
Hole in America legally.
Ethically should be targeted for increased interest from the FBI or from our intelligence service's look this is meta data.
Business records the court has -- it has no expectation of privacy.
And therefore what the agencies have done is to go down this path.
Members of congress I read the letters that were released this week in 2009.
It specifically invited members of congress to come read what the government was doing.
And the phrase in the letter was bulk meta data collection.
All right let me bring in congress and a -- just heard the general say that americans' privacy.
Is not being violated and that you're amendment that you almost -- them and only lost by a few votes would make it harder for them.
To get the information they need about terrorist.
Well we don't have any evidence that are making -- that much more difficult.
It's and we're not gonna have me up perfect system you can't have a perfect system unless you have -- people under constant lockdown costly being monitored.
And even and that system you have essentially police state and I think -- run the risk of having a much more dangerous society.
You have senators like senator wide and in -- and others who said and and senator Leahy who have said they don't think this program is very effective.
And -- to whether americans' privacy is if privacy is being violated just asked my constituents if I go back home to town hall are meeting.
They will tell you that their privacy is being violated the court case that the Justice Department at the intelligence community.
-- rely on so heavily is a court case from the 1970s.
Where one person.
Was under suspicion for a limited period of time in the collected his records that's very different from collecting the phone records and other data.
Of every single American in the United States well.
General let's get directly to this and answer these two concerns do the congressman's constituents in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Explain why their privacy is not being violent and and and specifically.
Why do you need this information on every phone call that's made by every American again just the fact that the phone call not the -- Why do you need that.
To fight terror.
Well let it start with the legal premise here Chris and I realized Smith vs Maryland 197 and I was about a very specific industry case.
But the fact of the matter is the court held.
That meta data in an essence.
Our phone -- our phone bills meta data has no expectation of privacy.
And that's why we in the intelligence community felt that this was the -- just as I said the lightest touch possible to try to -- Who in America might be the enemy inside inside the gate -- what we do with that Chris is very important enough.
I understand the congressman and his constituents' concerns so they would want to know are right you've got this ocean of data.
What do you do with it and that's very important look.
The government has lots of oceans of data the government demands but I tell them every penny I make and how I made it.
That's also is in one sense an invasion of privacy.
But there's a larger national purpose which -- serves.
That same applies to this meta data collection.
What do we do with the -- and what we do Chris let me give you an example.
We roll up a terrorist cell let's say Yemen which James Rosen referred to in his piece we -- the terrorist -- there.
We find of cell phone about which we had no knowledge prior to that rate.
We take that cell phone number metaphorically we approach that -- of data and simply say.
Has this phone -- in contact with any of these phones inside this meta data database doesn't let it.
Let me let me bring congressman Hamas and sounds reasonable while -- collecting the phone records of every single American in the United States and it's important to understand.
That what the Justice Department and intelligence community are relying on is a third party doctrine they are saying that because you've given your data.
Because it's shared with the third party it becomes public property -- company because they have a record that you called -- and it's important to understand that it then goes beyond the -- -- So we start with -- metadata but the the government is not suggesting that it can't collect your.
Actual communications -- can't collect your contact under this doctrine they certainly can collect your content.
Just that they can -- your meta data and metadata itself can tell you.
Well a whole host of information about a person's life with the with the kind of computer power we have today.
Let me just quickly we got less than a minute -- them and ask you to do this quickly both -- -- general rightly or -- it seems clear that there is a move -- represented by congress and a -- -- put new restrictions.
On the NSA it seems clear that's gonna happen I wanna put -- Couple of the ideas that have been suggested.
Creation of a special counsel to challenge the government's surveillance requests.
In the secret fines -- court reducing how long phone records can be retained from five years to two.
Releasing information each year on how many warrants the government seeks.
Briefly general could you live with the -- and or all of us.
There's several there and I think the intelligence community is looking at right now Chris and to make Americans more comfortable -- the programs that.
I've got to add Chris it doesn't make Americans more comfortable but the program.
This does not authorize the collection of content period.
-- and -- that you heard those -- suggestions -- -- -- -- satisfy your concerns or do you just want an end.
To this bulk collection of -- -- I think we've got a whole host of ideas out there I've got a bill called the liberty act.
Chairman good -- is very committed to working through this process and I think we're gonna have a lot of good bills come through Judiciary Committee congressman a month's general Hayden wanna thank you both are coming in today -- --
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