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Yes, should-be-tried-for-perjury Director of the NSA James Clapper actually said that. Which I for one believe is a pretty odd stance to hold when he also claims that the revealing of the program did great harm to national security.

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast, Clapper said the problems facing the U.S. intelligence community over its collection of phone records could have been avoided. “I probably shouldn’t say this, but I will. Had we been transparent about this from the outset right after 9/11—which is the genesis of the 215 program—and said both to the American people and to their elected representatives, we need to cover this gap, we need to make sure this never happens to us again, so here is what we are going to set up, here is how it’s going to work, and why we have to do it, and here are the safeguards… We wouldn’t have had the problem we had,” Clapper said.

Of course Clapper has to turn to The Daily Beast to give these interviews, but in all fairness the article is not bad. I do wish they had called him out on the attempts to write-off all surveillance only occurring under Section 215 when Executive Order 12333 also allows inclusion offar more US Data. But of course... they did not.

Clapper went on:

“What did us in here, what worked against us was this shocking revelation,” he said, referring to the first disclosures from Snowden. If the program had been publicly introduced in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, most Americans would probably have supported it. “I don’t think it would be of any greater concern to most Americans than fingerprints. Well people kind of accept that because they know about it. But had we been transparent about it and say here’s one more thing we have to do as citizens for the common good, just like we have to go to airports two hours early and take our shoes off, all the other things we do for the common good, this is one more thing.”
After 9/11 the country would have done most anything in the name of national security. We re-elected Bush afterall. However they did not choose to go down this route. They hid behind bogus claims of security, jailing people who revealed when the programs ventured into mass illegality and demonizing anyone who dare question their effectiveness. Which brings me to my next boxquote:
In the interview Clapper said the 215 program was not a violation the rights of Americans. “For me it was not some massive assault on civil liberties and privacy because of what we actually do and the safeguards that are put on this,” he said. “To guard against perhaps these days low probability but a very (high) impact thing if it happens.” Clapper compared the 215 program to fire insurance. “I buy fire insurance ever since I retired, the wife and I bought a house out here and we buy fire insurance every year. Never had a fire. But I am not gonna quit buying my fire insurance, same kind of thing.”
I wont even bother breaking down those remarks as there are several directions I could go with such material as 'very low terror probability these days'  and the whole comparing mass surveillance to fire insurance... but I'll leave that to you rather smart people.

Instead I'll direct you to Marcy Wheelers excellent take on Clappers obfuscations in regards to the little matter of lying to congress.

Obviously Bogus Clapper Exoneration Attempt 5.0 Doesn’t Exactly Line Up with OBCEA 4.0

At the time of the Mitchell interview, the U.S. government was still in the process of declassifying elements of the FISA 702 program. “There is only one person on the planet who actually knows what I was thinking,” Clapper said of his testimony from last March. “Not the media, and not certain members of Congress, only I know what I was thinking.”
If only one person knows what he was thinking, then how was Robert Litt in any position to tell us Clapper was “surprised”?

And has Clapper decided he wasn’t “surprised” (perhaps because he had been briefed, not to mention had received months and months of letters, about the question), but instead simply “misunderstood” the intent of a question he had received months of letters about?

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