Some lawmakers reacted to the long-expected resignation announcement from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Thursday by wishing him an eventful retirement, featuring prosecution and possible prison time.
The passage of more than three years hasn’t cooled the insistence in certain quarters that Clapper face charges for an admittedly false statement to Congress in March 2013, when he responded, “No, sir” and “not wittingly” to a question about whether the National Security Agency was collecting “any type of data at all” on millions of Americans.
About three months after making that claim, documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the answer was untruthful and that the NSA was in fact collecting in bulk domestic call records, along with various internet communications.
To his critics, Clapper lied under oath, a crime that threatens effective oversight of the executive branch. In an apology letter to lawmakers, however, Clapper said he gave the “clearly erroneous” answer because he “simply didn’t think of” the call-record collection.
Clapper later told MSNBC he considered the question akin to asking, “When did you stop beating your wife?” and so gave the “least untruthful” answer.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who asked the question, rehashed the controversy in a statement Thursday, saying Clapper had presided over a “deception spree regarding mass surveillance” and that Clapper’s office had been given the question in advance and then was asked, without success, to correct the record after the hearing…