The PJ Tatler

Dem Senator: I Gave Clapper Multiple Opportunities to Tell the Truth

The Democratic senator who was told by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in a March 12 hearing that the National Security Agency does “not wittingly” collecting data on millions of Americans isn’t satisfied with Clapper’s clarifications.

Clapper told MSNBC that 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.

This morning, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) responded.

“One of the most important responsibilities a Senator has is oversight of the intelligence community.  This job cannot be done responsibly if Senators aren’t getting straight answers to direct questions,” Wyden said in a statement.

“When NSA Director Alexander failed to clarify previous public statements about domestic surveillance, it was necessary to put the question to the Director of National Intelligence. So that he would be prepared to answer, I sent the question to Director Clapper’s office a day in advance. After the hearing was over my staff and I gave his office a chance to amend his answer.”

He added “now public hearings are needed to address the recent disclosures and the American people have the right to expect straight answers from the intelligence leadership to the questions asked by their representatives.”

President Obama said in a Friday defense of the surveillance programs that they “are secret in the sense that they’re classified, but they’re not secret in the sense that, when it comes to telephone calls, every member of Congress has been briefed on this program.”

Only congressional leadership and the intelligence committees, though, are traditionally briefed on sensitive intelligence matters. Wyden asked Clapper about the programs at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, and still didn’t get a straight answer.