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.
At least one member of Congress is calling for Clapper's head. On his Facebook page, Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican, wrote that Clapper "lied under oath" to Congress.
"It now appears clear that the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, lied under oath to Congress and the American people," Amash posted on Wednesday morning. "Members of Congress can't make informed decisions on intelligence issues when the head of the intelligence community wilfully makes false statements. Perjury is a serious crime. Mr Clapper should resign immediately."