Apology not accepted.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has apologized for a "clearly erroneous" statement he made to Congress over the National Security Agency's surveillance activities.
In a letter to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), released publicly on Tuesday, Clapper said he was mistaken when he told Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) that the United States did not collect data on millions of Americans.
"My response was clearly erroneous -- for which I apologize," Clapper wrote in the letter dated June 21.
"While my staff acknowledged the error to Senator Wyden's staff soon after the hearing, I can now openly correct it because the existence of the metadata collection program has been declassified," Clapper said.
Clapper's statements at the March 12 Senate hearing have received enormous scrutiny ever since news stories revealed the NSA's telephone and Internet surveillance programs last month.
Clapper directly contradicted those stories in his comments on March 12.
"Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?" Wyden asked the intelligence director at the hearing.
"No, sir," Clapper replied.
"There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly," he added.
Members of Congress, particularly Wyden, had criticized Clapper since the NSA programs became public, and he has been under pressure to offer an apology. His letter was posted on his office's website on Tuesday.
Clapper said he was writing in part because of the "charged rhetoric and heated controversy" over his response, so he could "set the record straight."
Clapper wrote to Feinstein that he has "thought long and hard to re-create what went through my mind at the time."
OK - so he was testifying in open committee and didn't think he could reveal the existence of classified programs. We get it. But really, isn't this guy smart enough to say something like, "I'll get back to you on that Congressman." The only purpose in lying was to conceal the truth from Congress.
Senator Wyden is a member of the Intelligence Committee so telling him about the lie doesn't count. The Senator is constrained from revealing the truth even to his colleagues. Clapper left the clear impression wth the Senators that the NSA engaged in no such data collection.
And simply saying "I'm sorry" doesn't change that.