You may recall that Director of National Intelligence blatantly lied to the Senate Intelligence Committee in March when he was asked if the NSA was collecting any data at all on millions of Americans. He flatly said no, weeks before the new revelations of NSA spying. And his explanations for that lie seem to be evolving on their own. First he said that he said that because it was the “least untruthful” answer. Now he says he just forgot:
In the full letter, Clapper attempted to explain the false testimony by saying that his recollection failed him. “I simply didn’t think of Section 215 of the Patriot Act,” he wrote to committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (Democrat, California) on 21 June, referring to the legal provision cited to justify the mass collection of Americans’ phone data, first disclosed by the Guardian.
Clapper is under intense pressure from legislators displeased by his March testimony to the Senate intelligence committee’s Ron Wyden (Democrat, Oregon) that the NSA did “not wittingly” collect, as Wyden put it, “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.”
In his newly released letter, Clapper told Feinstein that his remarks were “clearly erroneous,” and he issued them because he was thinking instead of a different aspect of surveillance, the internet content collection of persons NSA believes to be foreigners outside of the United States.
“I apologize,” Clapper wrote. “While my staff acknowledged the error to Senator Wyden’s staff soon after the hearing, I can now openly correct it because the existence of the metadata program has been declassified.”
In statements for the past month, Wyden and his staff have said they told Clapper before the fateful hearing that he would face the question, and contacted his staff afterward to correct the record.
“The ODNI [Office of the Director of National Intelligence] acknowledged that the statement was inaccurate but refused to correct the public record when given the opportunity. Senator Wyden’s staff informed the ODNI that this was a serious concern,” Wyden spokesman Tom Caiazza said on Monday.
Yeah, he just forgot about the massive, clearly unconstitutional data mining program. What? It happens. He had a lot on his mind that day. He was thinking about where all those Iraqi WMD had gone after being transported to Syria, as he falsely claimed in 2003. He wasn’t lying and how totally unfair of you to think so.