PAUL D. SHINKMAN
US News & World Report
July 3, 2013
The director of National Intelligence apologized in June to the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee for lying during a hearing, according to a letter published on the DNI website on Tuesday.
Director James Clapper appeared before the committee in March, where Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked him specifically if NSA spies on millions of Americans. Clapper answered, “No.”
Since then, Edward Snowden reportedly leaked government documents that unveiled a secretive government program that did precisely what Wyden suggested in collecting meta data for cell phone and internet records of hundreds of millions of Americans.
Clapper says the intricacy of Wyden’s question – asking for a clarification of “hundreds of millions of dossiers on people” – combined with a need to preserve classified information prompted him to give the wrong answer.
“My response was clearly erroneous – for which I apologize,” he wrote in the letter to committee chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. “While my staff acknowledged the error to Sen. Wyden’s staff soon after the hearing, I can now openly correct it because the existence of the metadata collection program has been declassified.”