Thanks to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) for marking this March 12 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing right to the point where Director of National Intelligence James Clapper denied the National Security Agency was “wittingly” collecting data on millions of Americans:

UPDATE: In a lengthy statement today, Clapper slammed the Guardian article on the Verizon records, saying “the unauthorized disclosure of a top secret U.S. court document threatens potentially long-lasting and irreversible harm to our ability to identify and respond to the many threats facing our nation.”

“The article omits key information regarding how a classified intelligence collection program is used to prevent terrorist attacks and the numerous safeguards that protect privacy and civil liberties,” Clapper said.

“…Discussing programs like this publicly will have an impact on the behavior of our adversaries and make it more difficult for us to understand their intentions. Surveillance programs like this one are consistently subject to safeguards that are designed to strike the appropriate balance between national security interests and civil liberties and privacy concerns. I believe it is important to address the misleading impression left by the article and to reassure the American people that the Intelligence Community is committed to respecting the civil liberties and privacy of all American citizens.”