In a Guardian article revealing yet another way the NSA is spying on us without warrants (their third such revelation in three days), we find this very interesting exchange from March, a few weeks before the court order that was leaked to the Guardian about the Verizon metadata seizures:
At a hearing of the Senate intelligence committee In March this year, Democratic senator Ron Wyden asked James Clapper, the director of national intelligence: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
“No sir,” replied Clapper.
Judith Emmel, an NSA spokeswoman, told the Guardian in a response to the latest disclosures: “NSA has consistently reported – including to Congress – that we do not have the ability to determine with certainty the identity or location of all communicants within a given communication. That remains the case.”
But according to members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, this program has been going for seven years and the court order was just the most recent reauthorization of the program:
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., echoed Feinstein, saying the court-approved phone records collection has been standard procedure and that lawmakers are briefed on the program.
“This is nothing particularly new,” he said. “This has been going on for seven years under the auspices of the FISA authority, and every member of the United States Senate has been advised of this.”
So either they are lying or the NSA was lying. It would be a lot easier to take their “just trust us” arguments seriously if they hadn’t been caught lying so often.