'4 Intelligence Officials' Allegedly Joke Of 'Disappearing' NSA Leaker, Reporter (UPDATED)

Leading foreign policy analyst Steve Clemons said he witnessed a rather disturbing conversation while waiting for a flight at the Dulles airport on Saturday.

According to Clemons, four men sitting near him were discussing an intelligence conference they had just attended, and turned to the topic of the NSA leaks. One said that both the reporter and leaker should be "disappeared," a term used to describe secret murders and abductions carried out by authoritarian governments. Clemons said on Twitter the suggestion seemed to be "bravado" and a "disturbing joke." He said that the officials were talking loudly, "almost bragging."

HuffPost asked Clemons via Twitter how he could be sure they were in the intelligence community and he noted that "one wore a white knit national counterterrorism center shirt." But more importantly, he said, the conversation led him to conclude that they were certainly in the community, especially given the conference they talked about attending. They discussed former Ambassador John Negroponte as having been in attendance. (If you know what conference that was, email openreporting@huffingtonpost.com.)

Clemons, who is editor at large at The Atlantic, said he did not know who the officials were or what agency they were with. He recorded part of the conversation and took some photos, which he plans to post online.

The incident comes just days after news broke that the NSA had been obtaining millions of phone records daily. The story was first reported by Glenn Greenwald at the Guardian.

Later this week, it was also reported that the NSA program, PRISM, also tapped into data from several major tech companies, including Google, Apple and AOL (which owns The Huffington Post.)

UPDATE: Clemons has learned that the men were in town attending an event hosted by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, which lists dress code for the dinner as "black tie or mess dress."

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