During his testimony before the Senate on March 12, our Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, answered with an affirmative “No, sir,” when he was asked directly by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
Subsequent revelations about the government’s PRISM program, the federal government’s seizing of the phone records of millions of Americans from Verizon, and this Data Center currently under construction in Utah, seem to prove that Clapper’s answer simply wasn’t true.
Lying to congress is a serious offense.
In an interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell Sunday night, Clapper attempted to explain his misleading testimony this way, “First– as I said, I have great respect for Senator Wyden. I thought, though in retrospect, I was asked–‘When are you going to start– stop beating your wife’ kind of question, which is meaning not– answerable necessarily by a simple yes or no. So I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful manner by saying no.”
NBC adds: “Clapper went on to say that his answer to Wyden was about the content of the phone conversations, not simply archiving the phone records.”
NBC also adds: “Clapper didn’t have a good response why he seemed to mislead Congress about the program.”
No, he did not.
NBC closes the “First Read” item with a joke about how Clapper is not a good communicator. But that is just NBC assuming its natural position of guarding Obama’s palace.
The problem is not that Clapper can’t communicate; the problem is that there is no good answer that reconciles Clapper’s testimony and what we have learned since.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC