Hayden, speaking with CBS' “Face the Nation” fill-in host Major Garrett, said Snowden’s leaks regarding the mass collection of innocent Americans’ phone records was the “most serious hemorrhaging of American secrets in the history of American espionage.”
Hayden said that other notorious cases of government leaks, such as Robert Hanssen's leaks, were limited in scope, and even though lives were lost due to the leaks, Snowden’s leaks were far more significant.
“There's reason we call these leaks. If you extend the metaphor to Hanssen and [Aldrich] Ames, we can argue whether that was a cup of water that was leaked or a bucket of water.” Hayden said. “What Snowden is revealing, Major, is the plumbing.”
What Snowden revealed, Hayden argued, wasn’t just what American intelligence agencies were doing, but how they were doing it.
“He's revealing how we acquire this information,” Hayden said. “It will take years, if not decades, for us to return to the position that we had prior to his disclosure.”