Congressmen Sick of Trying to Pry Truth Out of Testifying NSA Officials

Testimony Boils Down to Games of 20 Questions

As the handful of Senators and Representatives who were in on the NSA PRISM scheme continue to loudly defend it, the rest of Congress is expressing growing disquiet over the lack of proper oversight, as well as the inability to get straight answers out of people testifying about surveillance programs.

Congress needs to be informed of what’s going on, and we’re not,” noted Sen. Jon Tester (D – MT), while Rep. Tom Price (R – GA) said every briefing by officials affiliated with the programs ends up with “more questions than answers.”

The complaints about playing “20 questions” with security officials if reflected by the trail of testimony ahead of PRISM being leaked to the public, an array of half-truths and overt lies by officials at every opportunity, with Congressmen saying that they needed to carefully word their questions to try to get snippets of truth out of them.

Nowhere was that more clear than with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who gleefully bragged about having given the “least untruthful” lie he could think of after being asked questions he felt were “unfair” and that he didn’t feel like answering.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.