Michael Hayden, former director of the National Security Agency and the CIA, says he has "no idea" what's behind a report that he criticized the Obama administration in a telephone call with journalists after his comments were leaked on Twitter.
Tom Matzzie, the former Washington director of the liberal group MoveOn.org, tweeted what he claimed were excerpts of phone conversations Hayden had on an Amtrak train on Thursday. Matzzie's tweets claim Hayden made "disparaging" comments about the administration.
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In an interview with Newsmax TV, Hayden said doesn't know what all the fuss is about.
"My reaction is, I wonder why it's getting all of that press reaction," Hayden said in an exclusive interview. "I was on the train. I was called by a couple of journalists who weren't asking me for anything sensitive and certainly not anything political.
"I have some experience and frankly, I welcome the debate that all of this is going to engender, but it should be an informed debate."
Hayden, the NSA director from 1999 to 2005, gave a series of background interviews Thursday on the Amtrak Acela, a high-speed train that runs between Boston and Washington, D.C.
Matzzie, whose Twitter feed describes him as the founder of Ethical Electric Company, gave followers a string of tweets describing Hayden's comments to reporters.
He then tweeted: "Michael Hayden on Acela giving reporters disparaging quotes about admin. 'Remember, just refer as former senior admin.'"
And a few minutes later, this tweet:
"Hayden was bragging about rendition and black sites a minute ago."
Under the CIA's controversial rendition program after the 9/11 attacks, terrorism suspects would be captured and held at undisclosed locations or "black sites" outside the United States.
Hayden's office became aware of the tweeting and called his cellphone to warn him, Matzzie tweeted. Matzzie then spoke to him, and Matzzie tweeted:
Hayden later told Reuters he was answering questions on "difficult issues" and never criticized the president
"I answered the questions and he said I was bashing the Obama administration," Hayden told Newsmax. "I have no idea what he means by that. There were just factual responses to a factual question."
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