“One of the most important responsibilities a Senator has is oversight of the intelligence community. This job cannot be done responsibly if Senators aren’t getting straight answers to direct questions. When NSA Director Alexander failed to clarify previous public statements about domestic surveillance, it was necessary to put the question to the Director of National Intelligence. So that he would be prepared to answer, I sent the question to Director Clapper’s office a day in advance. After the hearing was over my staff and I gave his office a chance to amend his answer. Now public hearings are needed to address the recent disclosures and the American people have the right to expect straight answers from the intelligence leadership to the questions asked by their representatives.”Clapper has argued that the question was unfair, "like 'When are you going to stop beating your wife?'" and that he and Wyden just weren't talking about the same thing when they talked about "collection." But now we know that Clapper had a day to clarify with Wyden what he was going to be asked. That there could be any question about what Wyden was asking—about the NSA program that he had been briefed on and which has now been make public—has been laughable all along. Now that we know Clapper was clued in ahead of time, it's even more absurd.
It's time for Clapper to come back before the committee with more direct answers. Wyden's ratcheting up of this dispute could be a prelude to that.