DNI Clapper Admits ‘Clearly Erroneous’ Testimony on NSA Surveillance
On Tuesday, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper apologized for what he termed a “clearly erroneous” statement he made under oath to Congress regarding the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. On March 12, Clapper responded in the negative to a question by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) about whether the NSA collected “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.” He added, “There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.”
That statement was false. In an attempt to get past that statement, Clapper sent a letter Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) stating that he wanted to get past the “charged rhetoric and heated controversy” to “set the record straight.” He said that he “simply didn’t think of Section 215 of the Patriot Act…Instead, my answer focused on the collection of the content of communications.” He said that he was thinking about section 702 of the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act, which governs information gathering on people outside the United States.
“My response was clearly erroneous,” he wrote, “for which I apologize. 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 collection program has been declassified.”