Darrell Issa: James Clapper lied to Congress about NSA and should be fired

January 27

James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence, arrives for a hearing of the Senate Judiciary on Capitol Hill October 2, 2013 in Washington, DC. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

A group of congressmen led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is pushing for President Obama to fire James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, who they say misled Congress about the extent of the NSA's surveillance activity.

The lawmakers called Clapper's position "incompatible" with the administration's effort to restore trust in the NSA, according to a letter sent to the White House Monday. The group is mostly Republican, but includes one Democrat, Rep. Alan Grayson (Fla.).

"Director Clapper continues to hold his position despite lying to Congress under oath about the existence of bulk data collection programs in March 2013," the letter reads. "Asking Director Clapper, and other federal intelligence officials who misrepresented programs to Congress and the courts, to report to you on needed reforms ... is not a credible solution."

Last year at a hearing on surveillance, Sen. Ron Wyden asked Clapper whether the NSA collected "any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans” — to which Clapper said "No, sir ... not wittingly.”

Monday's letter to Obama also called out the administration for not addressing what it called the NSA's attempts to circumvent and undermine encryption standards that protect secure online communications, an issue that civil liberties advocates have also addressed in the wake of Obama's NSA reform speech this month.

A White House spokesperson did not immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment. Read the full letter here.

Update: Caitlin Hayden, a White House spokesperson, said in an e-mailed statement that Obama has "full faith in Director Clapper’s leadership of the intelligence community. The Director has provided an explanation for his answers to Senator Wyden and made clear that he did not intend to mislead the Congress."

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post.
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