Le 12 mars 2013, lors d’une audition devant la commission Intelligence du Sénat, le Sénateur démocrate Ronald Wyden pose une question simple à James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence et donc responsable de la NSA :
RW : Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans ?
JC : No sir
RW : It does not ?
JC : Not Wittingly, there are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect but not wittingly
L’affaire de la NSA ne peut que nous interroger sur cette réponse. Questionné le 8 juin 2013 par Andrea Mitchell, NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correponsdent, James Clapper donne une réponse plutôt alambiquée.
Ms. Mitchell: Senator Wyden made quite a lot out of your exchange with him last March during the hearings. Can you explain what you meant when you said there was not data collection on millions of Americans?
Director Clapper: First, as I said, I have great respect for Senator Wyden. I thought though in retrospect I was asked when are you going to start–stop beating your wife kind of question which is, meaning not answerable necessarily, by a simple yes or no. So I responded in what I thought was the most truthful or least most untruthful manner, by saying, “No.” And again, going back to my metaphor, what I was thinking of is looking at the Dewey Decimal numbers of those books in the metaphorical library. To me collection of U.S. Persons data would mean taking the books off the shelf, opening it up and reading it.
Ms. Mitchell: Taking the content.
Director Clapper: Exactly, that’s what I meant. Now…
Ms. Mitchell: You did not mean archiving the telephone numbers?
Director Clapper: No.
Ms. Mitchell: Let me ask you about the content.
Director Clapper: This has to do of course, somewhat of a semantic perhaps some would say too cute by half, but there are honest differences on the semantics when someone says “collection” to me, that has a specific meaning, which may have a different meaning to him.