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Nation & World

CIA Director John Brennan Breaks Silence On Hack Of Personal Email Account

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

It took a little prodding, but CIA director John Brennan talked this week about what it's like for the spymaster to be spied on. NPR's David Welna reports.

DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: It happened at a daylong conference on the ethics of spying. CIA director Brennan was the leadoff speaker with an ode to the wonders of spying in the digital age.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN BRENNAN: New technologies give us the capability to collect more data than ever before.

WELNA: But in his 13-minute speech, Brennan made no mention of his own data having been collected from his private AOL account. He did so only after PBS's Gwen Ifill pointed out that he'd been hacked.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GWEN IFILL: That's not very reassuring.

BRENNAN: No, but what it does is to underscore just how vulnerable people are to those who want to cause harm.

WELNA: The harm for Brennan included having a draft security clearance application and his wife's Social Security number published by WikiLeaks.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BRENNAN: I was certainly outraged by it. I certainly was concerned about what people might try to do with that information.

WELNA: He was also dismayed by some of the news coverage.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BRENNAN: The implication of some of the reporting was that I was doing something inappropriate or wrong or in violation of my security responsibilities, which was certainly not the case.

WELNA: Because the ways you communicate these days, he added, is through the Internet, which is also where a lot of people spy these days. David Welna, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.