German Chancellor Angela Merkel outside of Willy-Brand-Haus before the coalition negotiations in Berlin, Germany, on October 30, 2013.
Maurizio Gambarini/picture-alliance/dpa/ap

Ex-NSA chief: Spying on Merkel is business as usual


Ex-NSA head Gen. Michael Hayden argued that the controversial monitoring of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone is not surprising or unusual.

“This is normal behavior between nation states,” Hayden said on Wednesday’s Morning Joe. “This isn’t an R-rated movie, this is how adult nations treat each other and it’s fully acceptable.”

Hayden headed up the NSA under President George W. Bush and said that “of course” they monitored allies’ communications during that time.

At a Senate hearing on Tuesday, intelligence chiefs argued that these practices were commonplace.

The U.S. is regularly monitored by other nations, too, Hayden argued, reminding the panel of the kerfuffle that occurred when President Obama wanted to use his Blackberry in office—despite NSA fears of monitoring.

“The most powerful man in the most powerful nation on earth was just told that his communications were susceptible to intercept by dozens of foreign embassies inside his own national capitol,” Hayden said. “We didn’t protest, we just realized that’s the way things are.”

Hayden added that Merkel and other nations wouldn’t be as upset if the monitoring had been kept private.

“It’s not fact of that’s the problem, it’s fact of being in the papers that’s a problem,” he said.

Morning Joe , 6/13/13, 7:52 AM ET

Hayden on surveillance: What we’re doing now was established…

Gen. Michael Hayden joins the Morning Joe panel and expresses his surprise over the NSA leak especially the details regarding the FISA court order. Hayden shares examples with the panel of how the government’s surveillance program thwarted potential…

Ex-NSA chief: Spying on Merkel is business as usual