NSA

Obama Stands Behind Intel Chief

Administration insists Congress was fully informed about phone data gathering, despite claims otherwise

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As the Obama administration insists that Congress was fully informed about the National Security Agency's widespread surveillance on Americans' phone records, its intelligence chief is becoming a complication.

James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, has now admitted he gave the "least untruthful" answer to a direct question in March about the extent of surveillance on US citizens. The admission sets up a critical test of Clapper's relationship with the congressional committees that oversee him – committees the Obama administration is relying on for its defense of the surveillance efforts.

The Obama team is expressing support for Clapper as criticism of him mounts. "The president has full faith in director Clapper and his leadership of the intelligence community," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told the Guardian on Wednesday.