Senator Wyden Calls For Hearings Over Intelligence Officials Lying To Congress
from the about-time dept
We’ve discussed in great detail how the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, lied to Congress concerning NSA surveillance and why he should face the consequences of such lies. What hasn’t been noted as much is that NSA boss Keith Alexander more or less told the same lies to Congress a few months earlier, in a letter responding to some of Senator Wyden’s questions.
Now Wyden is pointing out that this is unacceptable and calling for hearings on the claims of the intelligence community to Congress:
“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. 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. 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.”
The specifics here are important, because last week, Clapper suggested that his answer was about whether or not the NSA collected emails from millions of Americans, even though Wyden’s direct question concerned “any type of data.” Now we know that (1) Clapper had this question ahead of time and (2) was later given a chance to clarify his answer. And he still stood by his “no” answer — which he now calls “the least untruthful” answer. But we can drop the “least” part of that. It was untruthful. Extremely untruthful in light of the evidence that the NSA is collecting all phone records from at least Verizon and AT&T, but likely from others as well.
Update: For clarification purposes, it appears that the hearings Wyden is requesting are about the data collection program, not specifically Clapper and Alexander’s statements. Though, I would imagine that those hearings may turn up more evidence that the earlier statements were, in fact, false.