Clapper: ‘I Didn’t Lie’ to Congress About NSA Spying — ‘I Just Simply Didn’t Understand’ the Question

TRENT BAKER

Tuesday on CNN’s “New Day,” host John Berman asked former National Intelligence Director James Clapper about The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald saying he lied to Congress about the NSA program used to spy on Americans’ phone records.

Clapper denied lying to Congress in 2013, explaining he “simply just didn’t understand the question” he was asked.

“[T]he original thought behind this, and this program was put in place as a direct result of 9/11, and the point was to be able to track quickly a foreign communicant talking to somebody in this country who may have been plotting a terrorist plot, and was put in place during the Bush administration for that reason. I always regarded it as kind of a safeguard or insurance policy so that if the need came up you’d have this to refer to,” Clapper told Berman.

“As far as the comment, the allegation about my lying: I didn’t lie, I made a big mistake and I just simply didn’t understand what I was being asked about,” he added. “I thought of another surveillance program, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act when I was being asked about Section 215 of the Patriot Act at the time. I just didn’t understand that.”

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