In March, the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, told Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), that the National Security Agency does “not wittingly” collect any data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.
Last week, we learned that under a Top Secret court order, Verizon Wireless provides all of its call data to the National Security Agency on a daily basis. We also learned that this has been going on for seven years.
So, doesn’t that count as the NSA wittingly collecting some data on millions of Americans?
Here’s the exact exchange:
Clapper was testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on March 12 of this year when he was asked by Wyden:
“Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
“No, sir,” Clapper replied.
Wyden seemed surprised by this: “It does not?”
“Not wittingly,” answers Clapper, pensively rubbing his forehead as he talks. “There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not wittingly.”
Pressed on the issue by the National Journal, Clapper said last week that he meant to say that “the NSA does not voyeuristically pore through U.S. citizens’ e-mails.”
That may be true. But that’s not what he said in the hearing.
And that’s not what Wyden heard, either. Check out his Tweet, and the video of the testimony — the key exchange happens at the 6:38 mark:
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) June 6, 2013
Do you think Clapper lies here? Let us know in the comments below.