'Immaculate Collection': Spy Chief Pokes Fun at Intel Gathering

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The director of national intelligence made a joke of Biblical proportions in a rare light-hearted spy-talk moment Thursday morning that seemed aimed at recent U.S. snooping scandals. While rolling out a new strategy to intelligence contractors at a Washington summit, James Clapper riffed on the public's expectations that intelligence can be gathered without any risk of violating civil liberties or other downsides while operating under tight constraints. "We are expected to keep the nation safe and provide exquisite, high-fidelity, timely, accurate, anticipatory and relevant intelligence, and do that in such a manner that there is no risk, and there is no embarrassment to anyone if what we are doing is publicly revealed," Clapper said. "We call this new approach to intelligence 'Immaculate Collection.'"

As the room broke into laughter, Clapper quipped, "Sorry, I couldn't resist. And by the way, we have to do this on the cheap, too."

The spy chief also addressed more serious issues during his speech, in which he outlined the seven ethics principles of the 2014 National Intelligence Strategy. He denied allegations that he lied to Congress about a surveillance program last year.


— Elizabeth Chuck