US Intelligence Chief James Clapper Apologizes For ‘Erroneous’ Testimony

James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, has issued an apology to Senate committee members for giving a “clearly erroneous” response to a question regarding US surveillance operations earlier this year.

The letter was written to Dianne Feinstein, the Intelligence Committee Chairman, last month, regarding the statement made by James Clapper during a hearing in March, according to CNN.

The March hearing was spurred on by earlier statements from National Security Agency Director General Keith Alexander in which he firmly denied claims that his organization had “millions or hundreds of millions of dossiers on people.”

During the hearing in March, directing his question toward Clapper, Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat from Oregon, asked if Clapper was aware of any NSA program that involved collecting “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

Director Clapper said he wasn’t, adding that “there are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly” collect such information.

Last month leaks regarding US intelligence programs, which include the collection of millions of phone call records and high volumes of internet and social media data, proved Clappers testimony to be a blatant contradiction.

Walking back those statements, James Clapper’s recent letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee says that his response “was clearly erroneous — for which I apologize.”

Attempting to save face, however, Clapper explains in his letter that his staff “acknowledged the error to Senator Wyden’s staff soon after the hearing” but could not disclose this publicly until the leaks forced the programs to be declassified.

Several politicians have come forward calling for Clapper’s resignation, saying his statements were an act of perjury.

According to The Hill, Senator Wyden, who asked the question in March, said that Clapper’s “erroneous” answer was an attempt to conceal intelligence operations from Congressional oversight.

Such oversight, Wyden believes, is important because “this job cannot be done responsibly if senators aren’t getting straight answers to direct questions.”

What do you think, was Intelligence Director James Clapper merely doing his job and concealing a classified program? Or are some of Clapper’s critics correct in saying he committed perjury? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Watch a clip of Clapper’s “erroneous” answer to the Senate Intelligence Committee below:

[Image via Medill DC via photopin cc]