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Clapper explained in the letter that he was “faced with the challenge of trying to give an unclassified answer about our intelligence collection activities, many of which are classified.”

Clapper said he mistakenly answered questions about more restricted eavesdropping on actual telephone conversations under Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act authorities.

Clapper said did not realize that Wyden was asking about Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act that expanded government authority to obtain Americans’ personal records in the hunt for “international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.”

The PRISM program gathers data under the Patriot Act power.

Clapper said his staff acknowledged the error at the time of the hearing but he was only now openly correcting the record because the metadata spying program was recently declassified.

Clapper, a former Defense Intelligence Agency director, said he has testified before Congress “dozens” of times and that he “takes all such appearances seriously and prepare[s] rigorously for them.”

“But mistakes will happen, and when I make one, I correct it,” he said.

A spokesman for Feinstein declined to say whether the senator believes Clapper should resign over the misstatement.

“I have received Director Clapper’s letter and believe it speaks for itself,” Feinstein said in a statement. “I have no further comment at this time.”

Wyden spokesman Tom Caiazza sidestepped a question about whether the senator thinks Clapper should resign or face dismissal.

Sen. Wyden is deeply troubled by a number of misleading statements senior officials have made about domestic surveillance in the past several years,” Caiazza said in a statement. “He will continue pushing for an open and honest debate about programs and laws that touch on the personal lives of ordinary Americans.”

Caiazza said the senator’s staff contacted Clapper’s office in March on the inaccurate statement on the bulk collection of data on Americans.

“The ODNI acknowledged that the statement was inaccurate but refused to correct the public record when given the opportunity,” he added.

A spokeswoman for Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Mich.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said Rogers was traveling on Monday and was unavailable for comment.

Other members of the Senate Intelligence Committee did not respond to email requests for comment about whether Clapper should resign.

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