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Clapper: Boston Attack Just Shows 'We Weren't Intrusive Enough'

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said the NSA surveillance programs are even further justified by the successful Boston Marathon attack because the bombings show "we weren't intrusive enough."

Clapper gave MSNBC in an interview aired today examples that are "a little dated" of how the programs prevented terrorist attacks.

"One was the aborted plot to bomb the subway in New York City in the fall of 2009. And this all started with a communication from Pakistan to a U.S. person in Colorado. And that led to the identification of a cell in New York City who was bent on a major explosion -- bombing of the New York City subway. And a cell was rolled up, and in their apartment, we found backpacks with bombs," he said.

"A second example, also occurring in 2009, involved one of the -- those involved -- perpetrators of the Mumbai bombing in India, David Headley. And we aborted the plot against a Danish news publisher based on the same kind of information."

Clapper said he finds it "a little ironic that in -- several weeks ago, after the Boston bombings, we were accused of not being sufficiently intrusive."

"We are supposed -- we were -- we didn't -- we failed to determine the exact tipping point when the brothers self-radicalized. And then it was, we weren't intrusive enough," he continued. "I don't mean to be a smart guy here. It's just that this is emblematic of the serious debate that goes on in this country between the two poles of security and civil liberties and privacy."

The director said when collection "errors are detected... which in all cases that I'm familiar with, were innocent and unintended, they are immediately corrected. And any of the ill begotten collection is destroyed."

"There are also, of course, people very, very concerned about civil liberties and privacy, among whom is, for example, Senator Wyden, whom I have great respect for. And he is passionate about civil liberties and privacy, and he is averse to ...so-called 'secret law,'" Clapper added.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) released video last week reminding everyone of the March 12 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing where Clapper denied the National Security Agency was “wittingly” collecting data on millions of Americans.