On March 12, at a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Ron Wyden asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper answered: “No, sir.” And Wyden reiterated the question, “It does not?” Clapper responded: “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could, inadvertently perhaps, collect — but not wittingly.”
As can be seen in the video clip above, Clapper’s body language seems to say much more than his words. He literally squirms and bows his head as he issues his denial. His discomfort in being pressed to answer this question is transparent.
In an interview with National Journal on Wednesday, Clapper squirmed and equivocated even more: “What I said [before the Senate committee] was, the NSA does not voyeuristically pore through U.S. citizens’ e-mails. I stand by that.”
What is implied in both of Clapper’s qualifications — that data is not collected ‘wittingly’ nor are e-mails viewed ‘voyeuristically’ — is that data gathered on millions of Americans is not systematically subject to human analysis.
But that’s irrelevant and almost certainly a willful deception since in the absence of any human analysis, vast databases can be created and massive amounts of machine analysis performed through which electronic data gathered on the bulk of the population can be used to construct and operate a social surveillance system of unparalleled scope and detail.