Former NSA head victim of “spying” on Amtrak, passenger tweets entire private convo with reporter

This story is just bizarre.  My friend Tom Matzzie was just taking the Acela Amtrak train, and who does he overhear sitting behind him having an “on background” conversation with a reporter, criticizing the Obama administration, but former National Security Agency (NSA) and CIA head Michael Hayden.

(“On background” means a reporter can use what you give them, but they can’t attribute it to you by name – often they’ll use the “senior administration official” name, or something similar.)


And to add to the fun, while Tom is now involved in the clean energy industry, he’s an old-time political hack, so he knew the value of what he was hearing.  So, he tweeted the conversation live!

In the end, Hayden figured out what was going on – someone apparently called him to let him know he was being live-transcribed.  Tom did get a photo with him, and Hayden agreed to an interview.  Which was pretty stand-up of him, considering.

It’s funny, I’ve been berated in the past for warning people about speaking in public about sensitive policy matters.  This isn’t the first time I’ve overheard people saying things they shouldn’t in this town (Al D’Amato’s evolving position on abortion, as a sitting US Senator, comes to mind, but that’s for another day).

Here’s Tom’s tweets, I’m a bit blown away by this. Some have raised the ethical question as to whether Tom should have tweeted anything. Then again, I suspect Angel Merkel and 70 million Frenchmen would have an opinion on this.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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