What Ron Wyden Should Have Asked Clapper

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The bureaucrat protects himself through specialized non-transparent meanings of words and terms. Senator Wyden last year asked the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper Jr., what he thought was a straightforward question: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper replied “No, sir … not wittingly.”

Clapper relied on a definition of “collect” found in, for example, a 1982 DOD handbook. “Data acquired by electronic means is ‘collected’ only when it has been processed into intelligible form.”

Notice, however, that the handbook uses the term “acquired” to mean what is usually meant by the word collected. Therefore, to find out what he wanted to know, Wyden would have had to ask “Does the NSA acquire any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Then Clapper would have had to answer “Yes”, in order to avoid lying. A good lawyer knows enough to ask the same question several different ways, using different language, in order to follow up.

10:22 am on June 13, 2013
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