Hayden's comments about Risen's case make him one of the most senior intelligence officials to question the wisdom of prosecuting the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter. "I am, like America, conflicted," Hayden said in the CBS interview. "You're talking about ruining lives over things about which people are acting on principle."
It's unlikely Hayden's statements will have any practical impact on the case, but they may provide some political cover for the Obama administration if it wishes to jettison the case against Risen. Hayden told CBS that he believes Risen's reporting harmed American interests but questioned the wisdom of redressing that offense in a way that "harms the broad freedom of the press."