Tables Turned On Former NSA Boss Michael Hayden, As 'Off-The-Record' Call Is Live Tweeted By Train Passenger

from the no-expectation-of-privacy-on-a-train dept

Michael Hayden, former NSA and CIA boss, who famously argued that the only people complaining about NSA surveillance were internet shut-ins who couldn't get laid, apparently never learned that when you're in a public place, someone might overhear your phone calls. Entrepreneur and former MoveOn.org director Tom Matzzie just so happened to be on the Acela express train from DC to NY when he (1) spotted Hayden sitting behind him and (2) started overhearing a series of "off the record" phone calls with press about the story of the week: the revelations of the NSA spying on foreign leaders. Matzzie did what any self-respecting American would do: live-tweet the calls. During the calls Hayden apparently slammed the Obama administration, while insisting he only be quoted as a "former senior administration official."

I'm sure Hayden will be happy about this. After all, as I'm sure he'd be the first to argue, he had no expectation of privacy in such a situation, right? In the end, it appears someone in his office spotted the tweets, and alerted Hayden who ended up taking a photo with Matzzie and having a short conversation with him.

A bunch of the tweets are below:






























For all the talk from the NSA folks how revealing how we collect phone information will lead terrorists to use other means... the fact that an ex-NSA boss would give such calls in a public place like this makes it pretty clear that even if you know if others eavesdrop on you, and you're supposedly an "expert" on this stuff, sometimes people just take a chance anyway. And sometimes it doesn't work so well.

Of course, Hayden's response to all of this is to blame "liberal activists" for this "bullshit" story, while insisting that Matzzie's statements about what the calls were about were "terribly wrong." As if anyone's going to believe that.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Ninja (profile), Oct 25th, 2013 @ 2:33am

    That's a nice way of "educating" these people on how privacy is necessary. Obviously you can't expect privacy if you are talking about something in a public place since people will accidentally overhear it but I'm fairly sure that people have other means of having more private conversations (ie: going to a private cabin, texting, e-mailing etc). And there's the fact that those people don't know where have you been, with who you are talking, how many times you talked with that person, what's your relationship with them (one can infer only). The problem comes when you can't expect such privacy because there are loons recording your communications because of some stupid bogeyman. I don't think Hayden learned the lesson. But it's a good example to throw at the NSA fanboys faces.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 3:44am

    Context of the story/phone call is important too. That's why they need all the metadata.

     

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  3.  
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    Ninja (profile), Oct 25th, 2013 @ 3:58am

    Re:

    And it still doesn't mean a shit because the context may be shared by the participants and the data associated with the call gives nothing but a false positive.

    Let's exercise our imagination: imagine a couple that enjoy doing the pimp/hooker fantasy. He calls her a prostitute and she says she'll pay with sex for something he paid her. They know they are joking but does simple metadata reveal such context? I don't think so. This is but one example that's close to me (I personally do it and I know two more couples that are into it) but I'm sure there are several others where no amount of detail will lead to the context as easily as you imply.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 4:05am

    anyone know when Tom Matzzie is going to be arrested and charged with espionage, treason, unauthorised communication of speech (from a prat!) and any other that can be drummed up, so as to get him thrown into prison? when are the first knocks on the door with the 'men in black suits' expected?

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 4:11am

    Re:

    Maybe they'll also charge him with 17 counts of hacking, to boot. Make that sentence go up to 5000 years in jail.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 4:24am

    Photo or it didn't happen.

     

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  7.  
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    Rich, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 4:39am

    Re:

    I assume that's a joke.

     

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  8.  
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    Capt ICE Enforcer, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 4:47am

    No charges needed

    Capt ICE Enforcer here,

    For all of you wanting charges brought against this man, please sit down and be quiet. The United States was deemed a war zone and with the indefinite detention without trial all I have to do is walk up with a SWAT team and have him detained. Why waste time having trial. After all, it will provide him a warm fuzzy knowing we care

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 4:54am

    At least Hayden admitted one thing...

    “Would you like a real interview?” he asked Matzzie.

    “I’m not a reporter,” Matzzie replied.

    “Everybody’s a reporter,” said Hayden.


    So he now admits that freedom of the press protections extend to EVERYONE.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 5:02am

    "Hayden's response to all of this is to blame "liberal activists" for this "bullshit" story"

    Perhaps some extraordinary rendition is in order, send Hayden to Gitmo

     

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  11.  
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    Ninja (profile), Oct 25th, 2013 @ 5:09am

    Re: At least Hayden admitted one thing...

    And that everything is monitored after all they did catch the tweeting.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 5:21am

    Re: Re:

    I was really sure I didn't need to /sarc that comment but I guess I was wrong.

     

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  13.  
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    Rich Fiscus (profile), Oct 25th, 2013 @ 5:27am

    If the NSA can't figure out how to keep their own phone calls to themselves why should we believe they're any more careful with ours?

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 5:41am

    Re: At least Hayden admitted one thing...

    Now we just need lawmakers and judges to realize that.

     

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  15.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Oct 25th, 2013 @ 6:02am

    Hopefully, this will make Hayden be extremely careful in what he says out loud. I remember a past article from here on Techdirt about lawyers for detainees in Gitmo, where the lawyers know that all their lines of communication are tapped, and thus, barely say anything. Let's let Hayden experience what that is like.

     

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  16.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Oct 25th, 2013 @ 6:29am

    Re: Re:

    Obviously.
    Everybody knows the phrase for seriousness is pics or didn't happen.

     

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  17.  
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    The Real Michael, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 7:06am

    Re:

    I'm amazed that people actually buy this notion that the NSA is obtaining just the metadata on phone calls while ignoring the content of the conversations. Dream on.

     

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  18.  
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    Larry (profile), Oct 25th, 2013 @ 7:22am

    Common sense and arrogance

    Anybody in government, business, or private life should know that there are things you don't talk about in public.

    My wife was riding the train to work one day and sat near two people talking about how they were going to con another department into taking on a project that they had messed up far beyond recovery. Three hours later she walked into a meeting where they were to plan the procedures for transferring the project to her department. She said the look on their faces when she was introduced as a senior manager was priceless. They did not take the project.

    Hayden knows the rules. I guess a case of legendary arrogance is what is required to lead this countries intelligence agencies. That and the assumption that you never have to pay for your sins.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 7:53am

    Re: Re: At least Hayden admitted one thing...

    Eh. Twitter is SUPPOSED to be monitored. It's kind of the whole point of the service to be something that people can choose to monitor.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 8:23am

    This guy is an now an Internet legend. He even made sure to get a pic as proof.

    Classic case of doing it right.
    Tom Matzzie has all my internets for today. Well played.

     

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  21.  
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    Alt0, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 8:29am

    Taxpayer $$$

    Well, at least he was on the train saving me some $$$.
    I thought all these clowns booked jets?

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 8:31am

    Tables Turned On Former NSA Boss Michael Hayden

    I didn't know Hayden rode trains all day and tweeted about conversations he overhears !!! Or wore shirts that don't fit, and ask people to 'chat up his wife' !!!

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 8:32am

    Re:

    Don't know, but I think the fashion police are after him !

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 8:33am

    Re: Re:

    What if the metadata was far more revealing, intrusive, vague than the actual content ?
    What if the content could absolve you but the metadata convicts you ?


    Just the metadata is probably more scary than the content.

    So you shared a meeting in a coffee shop with a "radical". GPS metadata told them.
    You visited similar "radical" websites. Metadata told them.
    You respond to a "radical" on twitter. That damn metadata.

    Next thing you know you are part of a web of "radicals"... metadata told them. The content could explain everything. Coffee shop was a coincidence, websites were just you following links to interesting stories or maybe even an accident and the communication on twitter was an argument.

    Metadata is seriously bad enough. It is so vague that everyone can be set up for practically anything.

     

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  25.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 25th, 2013 @ 8:46am

    Astonishing

    One would think that Hayden would understand the basics of discretion. It's not just the chance that some random person will overheard and tweet stuff.

    I once knew a person whose full time job was to take the commuter flights into and out of silicon valley and listen to the conversations around him to try and gain inside information about what high tech companies were up to. I can't imagine this is a practice unique to high-tech espionage.

     

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  26.  
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    Ninja (profile), Oct 25th, 2013 @ 8:51am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yeah, I failed the sarcasm check and laughed at my ineptitude ;D

     

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  27.  
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    Ninja (profile), Oct 25th, 2013 @ 8:54am

    Re: Re: Re: At least Hayden admitted one thing...

    Indeed you have a point but it seems creepy when the Govt is doing with major efficiency. It's one thing to have a horde of tweens monitoring if for One Direction stuff and someone calling attention to some event and another if it's the Govt doing so. Maybe it's just me

     

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  28.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Oct 25th, 2013 @ 9:19am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Guy in coffee shop looks up the effects of acid on human decomposition. He then initiates a Skype IM chat with an ex-con who had been jailed for muder with such phrases as "we'll slaughter the fuckers" and "I can't wait to see their faces after the acid".
    Metadata and actually going through the IM logs will lead one to suspect that they're planning a real murder spree.
    Nope. Turns out the guy in the coffee shop was a law student, looking up information for his classes; while the chat with his friend was about an online game (pretty sure there must be one by now that has acid in it).

    There's one hypothetical example.

     

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  29.  
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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Oct 25th, 2013 @ 9:21am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You could almost say that just the metadata is worse, because it lacks context that would be given by the content.

     

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  30.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Oct 25th, 2013 @ 9:22am

    Re: Astonishing

    I have to disbelieve you on the basis that the paranoid TSA would have flagged your friend long ago, due to the insane number of flights he would have had to have taken.

    No wait, a re-read now means I believe you. You said you once knew, past tense. This means your friend was picked up and imprisoned for the heinous crime of travelling by plane too many times and hasn't seen a human being since then. I actually wouldn't be surprised. What with Gitmo and this
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFy8sW9KgOg
    (long story short, a man was picked up on a DUI and then literally forgotten about in solitary confinement for years)...

     

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  31.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 25th, 2013 @ 9:50am

    Re: Re: Astonishing

    What he was doing isn't illegal, and this was well before the TSA existed.

     

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  32.  
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    kitsune361, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 10:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Every played Payday 2? Ever used Skype for voice comms? I'm pretty sure that game has gotten all my friends on some sort of watch list.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 10:38am

    Important Distinction

    This was a random circumstance where someone overheard what he was saying, albeit in a private conversation to someone else, in PUBLIC. That is very different then actively seeking access to someone's private communications, like the NSA does.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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