Clapper and Brennan stonewall during intelligence hearing

James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, told lawmakers Edward Snowden and his “accomplices” should return the trove of classified documents he took from the N.S.A. and that Mr. Snowden’s disclosures had done grave damage to the country’s security. Mr. Clapper did not give specific examples to bolster his assessment about the damage Mr. Snowden had done. He also did not say whom he believed Mr. Snowden’s accomplices to be.

Mr. Clapper has said in the past he resented having to testify in public about classified issues.

Senator Ron Wyden, the Oregon Democrat who has been outspoken in his critique of the growth of the N.S.A.’s surveillance activities, said that the dealings between spy agencies and their congressional overseers were crippled by a “culture of misinformation.”

Mr. Wyden has had a particularly contentious relationship with Mr. Clapper. During a hearing last year, he questioned Mr. Clapper about whether intelligence agencies were collecting any bulk information about Americans.  Mr. Clapper said they were not, but months later he had to apologize for that answer after Mr. Snowden revealed an N.S.A. program to collect and store domestic phone records.

On Wednesday, Mr. Clapper — who appeared at his annual testimony to Congress with the heads of several intelligence agencies — railed against the flood of reports in the news media based on Mr. Snowden’s documents. He also accused Mr. Snowden of hypocrisy for choosing to live in Russia while making public pronouncements about “what an Orwellian state he thinks this country is.”

In his written statement, Mr. Clapper listed threats from “trusted insiders” like Mr. Snowden, in addition to “threats posed by foreign intelligence entities,” as a greater concern even than international terrorism.

A spokesman for Mr. Clapper, asked about the reference to Mr. Snowden’s accomplices, said, “Director Clapper was referring to anyone who is assisting Edward Snowden to further threaten our national security through the unauthorized disclosure of stolen documents related to lawful foreign intelligence collection programs.”

Other lawmakers engaged in testy exchanges with John O. Brennan, the C.I.A. director, over a voluminous committee report about the agency’s detention and interrogation program, which is now defunct. The report was completed over a year ago but has yet to be declassified.

On two occasions, Democratic senators tried to press Mr. Brennan for details about an internal C.I.A. review that they said contradicted the agency’s official response to the Intelligence Committee’s report. Both times, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who leads the committee, cut off the questioning and said the matter would be discussed behind closed doors.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: