Critics Piling On US Intelligence Chief
James Clapper's 'least untruthful' explanation not sitting well
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 12, 2013 1:39 PM CDT
National intelligence director James Clapper testifies before a Senate panel.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(Newser) – Edward Snowden may be getting vilified in some camps over the NSA leaks, but the nation's intelligence director isn't having such a great time, either. Witness this piece in Slate by Fred Kaplan demanding that James Clapper be fired for lying. The issue, as the Washington Post and others have pointed out, stems from Clapper's testimony before a Senate panel in March when Democrat Ron Wyden asked him whether the NSA was collecting data on millions of Americans. "No sir," replied Clapper, at least "not wittingly." In the wake of the disclosure about the NSA's use of phone and Internet data, Clapper not-so-artfully tried to explain to NBC that he had given Wyden "the least untruthful answer" he could, notes the Huffington Post.

Not good enough, says Wyden, who had given Clapper advance notice of the question. The White House, however, is defending the intel chief for answering as best he could about a "very sensitive program," and the New York Times gets a sympathetic quote from former NSA and CIA chief Michael Hayden: “There’s not another country in the world where that question would have been asked and answered in a public session." Don't expect the heat on Clapper to diminish, though. Last night, the top European Union justice official demanded via letter to Eric Holder that the US provide details about the NSA's gathering of information on Europeans, reports another Times story.