Our government has totally shredded our right to privacy and will blatantly lie about the vast extent of its domestic surveillance apparatus. We suspected it before, but now—thanks to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden—we know it. The lying didn’t become a matter of established record, however, until Senator Ron Wyden’s persistent questioning at a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing in March 2013.
The Democratic senator from Oregon asked Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper to “give me a yes or no answer to the question: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
The nation’s top spy lied outright in his answer: “No, sir,” Clapper said. “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could, inadvertently perhaps, collect—but not wittingly.”
Three months later newspapers began publishing the hoard of top-secret documents Snowden leaked. Clapper was thereby forced to recant his earlier testimony, which seemed to constitute perjury. In a letter dated June 21, 2013, addressed to Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California), chair of the Select Committee on Intelligence, Clapper admitted that “my response was clearly erroneous—for which I apologize.”