Beltway Confidential

John McCain sours on American spies as lies to Congress add up

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Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke,CIA,Iran,National Security,NSA,Edward Snowden,John McCain,James Clapper

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., doesn't like hearing lies from American spies and the realization that the CIA "didn't tell the truth" about a U.S. citizen missing in Iran has him interested in increasing congressional oversight of the intelligence community.

The Associated Press reported this week that Robert Levinson, an American who went missing in Iran seven years ago, worked for the CIA -- but that's not what the CIA told Congress.

"What disturbs me is apparently they did not tell the truth to the Congress," McCain said on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday morning. "The CIA did not tell the truth to the American Congress about Mr. Levinson."

His awareness of that deception comes just months after James Clapper, director of national intelligence, falsely denied that the United States collects "any type of data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans" during a Senate hearing.

After former defense contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency does bulk electronic surveillance, Clapper explained why he made the "clearly erroneous" statement.

"I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner," Clapper said.

That's a a pattern that disturbs McCain. "You put this on top of things that our [congressional] intelligence committees didn't know about other activities, which have been revealed by Snowden — maybe it means that we should be examining the oversight role of Congress over our different intelligence agencies," he said.

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