Train Passenger Eavesdrops on Gen. Hayden, Shares on Twitter

Image: Train Passenger Eavesdrops on Gen. Hayden, Shares on Twitter

Friday, 25 Oct 2013 10:03 AM

By Lisa Furgison

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Former National Security Agency and CIA Director Michael Hayden, who once oversaw the nation's vast surveillance and intelligence network, had the tables turned on him Thursday, when his own private cell-phone conversation ended up being circulated through the all-too-public world of Twitter.

According to The Washington Post,
Hayden was on a New York-to-Washington Amtrak train when a passenger seated in front him eavesdropped on his phone conversation, apparently with a reporter from Time magazine. The passenger —identified by the Post as Tom Matzzie, former Washington director of the liberal political group — began tweeting out what he heard.

Urgent: Should the NSA Spy on Americans? Vote Here Now

“Former NSA spy boss Michael Hayden on Acela behind me blabbing ‘on background as a former senior admin official,’ ” Matzzie wrote. “Sounds defensive.”

For the next 15 minutes, Matzzie created quite a buzz on Twitter, offering quotes from Hayden's conversation like, “Michael Hayden on Acela giving reporters disparaging quotes about admin,” he tweeted. “ ‘Remember, just refer as former senior admin.’ ”

At some point, the former intelligence chief apparently figured out or was somehow tipped off to what Matzzie was up to. He confronted him.

"Would you like a real interview?" Hayden asked Matzzie, the Post reported.
"I’m not a reporter," Matzzie replied.

"Everybody’s a reporter," Hayden shot back.

The two had a conversation about surveillance activities, and agreed to disagree over their differing views, according to The Post. After their chat, Matzzie tweeted, "He offered an interview. I asked for a photo [which Hayden obliged]. Charm is a great way to disarm a PR crisis. I feel sorry for the guy."

Urgent: Should the NSA Spy on Americans? Vote Here Now

Matzzie's tweets created quite a media stir. Reporters from various organizations contacted Hayden for his response to the tweets.

"I cannot recall a single disparaging comment I made about the administration," Hayden told The New York Times, disputing Matzzie’s post. "I wasn’t saying anything sensitive or classified. These were just routine conversations. I can’t believe you guys are making such a big deal out of this."

Hayden also told The Post that some of what Matzzie tweeted out was "terribly wrong," and insisted again that he did not criticize President Barack Obama or his administration.

According to The Post, he dismissed the tweets as a “[B.S.] story from a liberal activist sitting two seats from me on the train hearing intermittent snatches of conversation.”

Related Stories:

Gen. Hayden to Newsmax: Spying Programs 'Keep You Safe, Keep You Free'

Hayden: Time to Disclose Success of NSA Surveillance

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