Activist Tweets Former NSA Chief’s ‘Off Record’ Phone Call On Train


Former National Security Agency director Michael Hayden is more used to being the one listening in on conversations than the one being eavesdropped on himself. The tables were turned on Thursday, however, as Hayden suddenly found his supposedly private conversations blasted across the Internet.

Riding on the Acela express train between New York and Washington, DC, Hayden had the bad luck of sitting near entrepreneur and former director Tom Matzzie. “Former NSA spy boss Michael Hayden on Acela behind me blabbing ‘on background as a former senior admin official’,” Matzzie wrote on his Twitter account. “Sounds defensive.” For the next twenty minutes, Mattzie continued to livetweet Hayden’s conversations slamming the Obama administration, all the while insisting that he be referred to only on background.

The conversation also seemed to touch on Hayden’s time as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency under President George W. Bush as well. “Hayden was bragging about rendition and black sites a minute ago,” Mattzie wrote. Hayden has in the past defended the use of waterboarding against detainees held in various sites around the world, and dismissed torture as a “legal term.”

“On Acela listening to former NSA spy boss Michael Hayden give ‘off record’ interviews,” Mattzie joked minutes later. “I feel like I’m in the NSA. Except I’m in public.” Hayden has been a vociferous defender of the NSA’s ongoing surveillance tactics, claiming repeatedly that the leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have harmed U.S. security.

It’s unclear precisely which news outlets Hayden was speaking to during the train ride, which passed through Philadelphia around 4:45 PM, though he was apparently speaking on the recent stories revealing the extent of NSA spying on allies like Germany and France. Mattzie speculated that one of the reporters was Massimo Calabresi at TIME magazine, but it will be impossible to determine until stories attributable to a “former senior administration official” begin to be published. See the full stream of tweets describing the situation here: