Dec 7, 2013
Tables Turned on Ex-Spy Boss; Eavesdropped Conversations Get Tweeted
Posted on Oct 25, 2013
So you’re sitting on a train from D.C. to New York City and you overhear a man you recognize as Michael Hayden, the former head of both the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, talking on his cellphone to journalists about drones, cyberspying and renditions while dissing the Obama administration, all “on background as a former senior administration official.”
What do you do?
Well, if you’re Tom Matzzie, Moveon.org’s former Washington director, you live-Tweet the secret exchanges to the world. That is just what Matzzie did Thursday.
Matzzie was sitting three seats away from Hayden when he began piecing together the threads of Hayden’s loud conversation, and figured out that he was giving interviews to reporters in that time-honored (and, really, sleazy) tradition of talking without attribution, so there would be no backlash for the information he was trying to weave into journalists’ stories. Matzzie didn’t Tweet much in the way of direct quotes—let’s call them Tweecrets—but was clearly relishing turning the tables on the nation’s former top eavesdropper.
Until after the phone chats with reporters ended and Hayden’s phone rang, this time a call from his office, where someone was monitoring the live Tweets. New York magazine caught up with Matzzie after the train rendezvous for a Q&A:
Yeah, very gentlemanly to be trash-talking without putting your name to it. The New York Times—which is not above using that “senior administration official” cover for its sources—caught up with Hayden:
—Posted by Scott Martelle.
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