Attorney: Spy chief had ‘forgotten’ about NSA program when he misled Congress

Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper wasn’t lying when he wrongly told Congress in 2013 that the government does not “wittingly” collect information about millions of Americans, according to his top lawyer.

He just forgot.

“This was not an untruth or a falsehood. This was just a mistake on his part,” Robert Litt, the general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said during a panel discussion hosted by the Advisory Committee on Transparency on Friday.

The comments add to the years of criticism that Clapper has received for his testimony in the 2013 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.
In the public session, longtime surveillance critic Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) had asked Clapper whether or not the NSA collected “any type of data at all on millions of Americans.”

“No sir,” Clapper responded. “There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.”

Just a few months later, however, leaks from Edward Snowden proved Clapper wrong. As documents released by Snowden made clear, the NSA collects records about millions of Americans’ phone calls under a program the government has said is authorized by Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

After the fact, Clapper has said that his statement was the “least untruthful” possible answer, given the secrecy of the program at the time.

Still, critics such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have called for Clapper to resign over the flap, which they say amounts to perjury.

Read the Full Article: Source – The Hill

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