When we last checked in with James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, he was claiming that he only lied about collecting data on millions of Americans during a congressional hearing in March because he doesn’t consider the storing of everyone’s phone metadata — whom we call, how long the calls last, the location of the calls, etc. — to technically constitute a “collection.” People have “honest differences on the semantics,” Clapper insisted.
That excuse has now expired, and Clapper has come up with a new one. In a letter to Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Clapper now says that, despite furiously rubbing his head, he “simply didn’t think of Section 215 of the Patriot Act,” which authorizes the phone metadata program, and acknowledges that his answer, in retrospect, was “clearly erroneous.”
Next week: Clapper only answered the way he did because he thought Ron Wyden asked him about the “collection of feta,” the delicious Mediterranean cheese.