When President Obama referred to Edward Snowden as a "hacker," it might have been meant as an insult, but it was accurate. While National Security Agency officials have been referring to Snowden as a "systems administrator" — which makes him sound like an unimportant office drone, an "IT guy," as many have called him — he was actually an "infrastructure analyst," he told The Guardian. That means he was a kind of hacker, but he wasn't hacking the NSA, The New York Times's Scott Shane and David E. Sanger explain. He was hacking the world for the NSA. It's one of the many ways NSA and Obama administration officials have shaded the truth in the wake of Snowden's revelations. Here are some other little untruths, and at least one whopper:
What was Snowden's job?
Infrastructure analyst, the Times explains, "is a title that officials have carefully avoided mentioning, perhaps for fear of inviting questions about the agency's aggressive tactics: an infrastructure analyst at the N.S.A., like a burglar casing an apartment building, looks for new ways to break into Internet and telephone traffic around the world."
James Clapper's Senate testimony
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (pictured above) pretty clearly told a lie in March. In a hearing, Sen. Ron Wyden, asked, "does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?" Clapper said "No sir." Asked again, Clapper said, "Not wittingly." The documents leaked by Snowden prove that's not true. Clapper's explanation for why he said what he said keeps changing.
- June 6: Clapper told National Journal what he said was true: "What I said was, the NSA does not voyeuristically pore through U.S. citizens' e-mails. I stand by that."
- June 9: Clapper told NBC News' Andrea Mitchell that he thought the question was unfair, so his answer was "too cute by half." Clapper said what he was thinking: "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 untruthful manner by saying no."
- June 21: In a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee, unearthed by The Washington Post's Greg Miller, Clapper said he could no longer remember what he was thinking: "I have thought long and hard to re-create what went through my mind at the time... My response was clearly erroneous — for which I apologize."