Washington (AFP) – A former C.I.A. and National Security Agency chief was overheard criticizing President Barack Obama’s administration in what he thought was an anonymous interview, which instead ended up on Twitter.
Retired general Michael Hayden made the mistake of giving a series of interviews Thursday to reporters by phone “on background” while riding a train, in public.
Unbeknownst to Hayden, he was sitting near Tom Matzzie, the former Washington director of the liberal, activist MoveOn.org Political Action Committee who immediately divulged the juiciest bits of the exchanges on Twitter.
The NSA spying scandal, C.I.A. secret prisons abroad and Obama’s smartphone were all topics of conversation.
Word of Hayden’s comments came just hours after reports that the U.S. government has spied on 35 world leaders.
It also follows recent damaging revelations that the United States tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone, triggering global outrage amid a widening NSA spying scandal.
“Former NSA spy boss Michael Hayden on Acela behind me blabbing ‘on background as a former senior admin official’ Sounds defensive,” Matzzie tweeted at 4:20 pm, more than an hour after the express train had left Washington, headed towards New York.
“On Acela listening to former NSA spy boss Michael Hayden give ‘off record’ interviews. I feel like I’m in the NSA. Except I’m in public.”
Hayden was being interviewed by several reporters, likely including Time magazine’s Massimo Calabresi according to Matzzie, and asked each time that he only be interviewed as a “former senior administration official.”