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US intelligence chief denies reports that the NSA collected 70 million French call records

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Stock tape recorder interview
Stock tape recorder interview

The NSA has struck back at reports that it recorded millions of French telephone calls and stored metadata from them. In a statement on Tumblr, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said an article from Le Monde, co-authored by Glenn Greenwald, contains "inaccurate and misleading information" about US intelligence. He then issued a highly specific denial: "The allegation that the National Security Agency collected more than 70 million 'recordings of French citizens' telephone data' is false." The article in question claims that 70.3 million such recordings were collected from December 2012 to January 2013, and that the NSA's surveillance system apparently also "picks up SMS messages and their content using key words."

Clapper has previously answered questions based on highly abstruse semantic distinctions, denying "collecting" data on millions of Americans because "when someone says 'collection' to me, that has a specific meaning, which may have a different meaning to him." It is unclear whether his current use of the word corresponds to its generally accepted definition.