Obama administration National Security Agency director James Clapper is claiming he didn’t lie to Congress when he told members that the NSA didn’t collect “any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans.”
The truth was that it did.
But he said in an interview on CNN, he just didn’t “understand.”
His statement was that the NSA didn’t collect data on the telephone communications of Americans when, in fact, the program was in operation then to gather metadata on vast swaths of communications among Americans.
That program has been targeted in several privacy lawsuits in federal courts. And it is in the news again with a report from the New York Times that the system “which analyzed logs of domestic calls and texts by Americans was being shut down, or allowed to expire.”
The spy-on-Americans program was revealed by the dump of classified material by Edward Snowden, a onetime government contractor who then fled America.
Reporter Glenn Greenwald said, “The very first program we revealed from Snowden documents – the mass domestic spying program of Americans’ phone records, which James Clapper lied about & Obama insisted was vital to national securitiy – has been shut down.”
The very first NSA program we revealed from Snowden documents – the mass domestic spying program of Americans’ phone records, which James Clapper lied about & Obama insisted was vital to national security – has been shut down https://t.co/H91zvOcVMk
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 5, 2019
In an interview with John Berman of CNN, Clapper said that was all wrong.
He insisted he just did not understand the question he was being asked during that 2013 hearing, although he had been provided it in advance of the hearing.
Clapper said he simply “made a big mistake.”
BizPacReview posted video of the interview.
Clapper said the spy program was put in place after 9/11 to track foreigners communicating with Americans “who may have been plotting a terror attack.”
“I didn’t lie. I made a big mistake,” he said. “I simply didn’t understand what I was being asked.”
Clapper, who continues to be a critic of nearly everything President Trump does, had been accused of perjury for his statement to a Senate committee that his agency didn’t collect that data.
Clapper told CNN, “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.”
Snowden joined the conversation.
“Fact check: The senator who asked the question said ‘Regardless of what was going through the director’s head when he testified, failing to correct the record was a deliberate decision to lie to the American people,” he wrote. “BTW, question was provided in advance.'”
Greenwald later responded.
“That James Clapper clip … where he hilariously tries to squirm out of having lied to Congress when falsely denying the NSA domestic surveillance program (his story has repeatedly changed on this) – is also worth watching for his admission that it stopped no terror plots.”
Commentator Eric Bolling wrote on Twitter: “A) James Clapper: ‘I Didn’t Lie’ to Congress About NSA Surveillance, I ‘Simply Didn’t Understand’ the Question. B) Dog ate my homework C) I didn’t know the speed limit officer.”
WND reported a year ago when a House Intelligence Committee report revealed Clapper also leaked information about the dubious anti-Trump “dossier” that was used by Obama officials to spy on President Trump’s 2016 campaign.
It was CNN host Jake Tapper’s report shortly before Trump’s inauguration in January 2017 – followed by the publishing of the full dossier by BuzzFeed – that ignited the fury in Washington over “Trump-Russia collusion” that led to the special counsel investigation by Robert Mueller.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said in an interview with the Fox News Channel’s “America’s Newsroom” that it apparently was Clapper who leaked information from a Jan. 6, 2017, intelligence briefing that included then-President-elect Donald Trump and President Obama.
“Here is one of the top intelligence people in the government at the time, leaking information to the press,” said Jordan.
Asked what he would say to Democrats charging Republicans are trying to deflect attention from allegations against Trump, Jordan said the “real concern” is alleged abuse by top FBI officials.
“They took an opposition research document and dressed it all up, made it look like legit intelligence and took it to the FISA court to get a warrant to spy on a fellow American citizen,” he said.
“And the guy who leaked information about that dossier is James Clapper.”
Clapper has faced other questions about his truthfulness.
In an April 2017 interview with “Meet the Press,” he unequivocally denied the existence of a FISA court order to wiretap the Trump campaign in 2016.
But in an interview with CNN five months later, he said it was possible that President Trump was recorded as part of the government’s surveillance of Paul Manafort, who served briefly as Trump’s campaign manager.
In the CNN interview, Clapper continued to claim that he wasn’t aware of a FISA warrant against Manafort.
But when asked by CNN host Don Lemon if it was “possible the president was picked up in a conversation with Paul Manafort,” Clapper said, “It’s certainly conceivable.”
“Likely?” pressed Lemon.
“I can’t say. I wouldn’t want to go there. I will say it’s possible,” Clapper said.
A report by the website Mediate pointed out Clapper had made it clear to Lemon that as DNI, he would know of any FISA order to wiretap an American citizen.
That meant that either Clapper wasn’t telling the truth or the order was carried out without his knowledge, which would have been illegal.
Republican lawmakers later urged the Justice Department to prosecute Clapper for falsely testifying during a March 2013 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that the National Security Agency was “not wittingly” collecting “any type of data at all” on millions of Americans.
The testimony fell apart months later when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed secret court orders forced phone companies to turn over all U.S. call records on an “ongoing, daily basis.”