Director of National Intelligence James Clapper apologized in a letter posted Tuesday for falsely telling Congress that the National Security Agency doesn’t collect data on Americans on a large scale, Fox News reports.
The June 21 letter was addressed to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein and was posted on the Office of the director of national intelligence’s website.
The apology comes on the heels of major revelations from NSA leaker Edward Snowden about several massive surveillance programs involving the data of millions of Americans.
Clapper said in the letter that his answer to a question from the committee about surveillance of Americans was “clearly erroneous.” Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, a longtime critic of government surveillance programs, asked Clapper at a March 12 hearing if the NSA “collects any type of data at all on millions of hundreds of millions of Americans.” Clapper replied, “No sir, it does not.” He later clarified his answer, saying, “not wittingly.”
Shortly after Snowden’s leaks became public, Clapper described his response as the “least untruthful answer possible.”
Clapper explained in the letter that he misunderstood Wyden and thought he was asking about the collection of the content of phone calls and emails, rather than the metadata Snowden revealed was being collected.
“Thus my response was clearly erroneous — for which I apologize,” Clapper wrote in the letter.