Now That The Intelligence Community Got Away With Lying, How Can You Trust Anything They Say?

from the there's-no-punishment dept

We've already discussed how Director of National Intelligence James Clapper flat out lied to Congress (and the American public) and gets away with it completely. While the Obama administration and other surveillance defenders have been almost universal in support for Clapper, despite his lying to Congress and the American public, this seems like a really bad strategy. As has been discussed, at the Black Hat conference, NSA director General Keith Alexander was heckled by someone who accused him of lying to Congress as well, perhaps confusing Alexander for Clapper or perhaps assuming that Alexander told lies another time.

But here's the thing: given Clapper's admitted lying combined with the complete lack of any direct consequences for doing so, there's simply no reason at all to take anything that Clapper or Alexander says at face value. Alexander, especially, has been trying to go on a charm offensive to convince people that the press reports are exaggerated. He even "cursed" during his speech at Black Hat, and then pretended that it was by accident, and asked that it not be mentioned, trying to show how "honest" he was being. But all the charm in the world can't overcome the simple fact that everyone knows that there appear to be no direct consequences for lying. Even if we want to believe him, it's pretty difficult.

If the administration really wants to convince us that the surveillance programs are above board, it seems that keeping on an admitted liar to both Congress and the American public as the "face" of such programs isn't a particularly intelligent idea. It just makes people that much less likely to believe anything that Clapper, Alexander or others say about the program in their attempts to defend it.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 12:34pm

    Now That The Intelligence Community Got Away With Lying, How Can You Trust Anything They Say?

    Simple answer - you can't.

    What little credibility they had is long gone.

     

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  2.  
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    Paul, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 12:49pm

    "If their lips are moving, They are LYING"!

     

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  3.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 12:50pm

    "given Clapper's admitted lying combined with the complete lack of any direct consequences for doing so"

    Of course if Clapper had lied and blew the whistle on his lying, he'd be locked in solitary right now.

     

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  4.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 12:51pm

    Re: Now That The Intelligence Community Got Away With Lying, How Can You Trust Anything They Say?

    By not doing anything about the lying they continue to dig a deeper hole for themselves. There is an ever growing level of distrust, that is directed at the government. As long as they maintain the business as usual, "we are above the law" attitude it will increase.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 12:53pm

    I would bet Roger Clemens says you can't trust these assholes.

     

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  6.  
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    MondoGordo (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 12:56pm

    Re:

    why ? Is Roger Clemens known for stating the obvious ?

     

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  7.  
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    crade (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 12:57pm

    Re:

    Unless Russia stepped in and saved him in the name of democracy.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 1:01pm

    They thought the NSA recruiter said they would be lying not spying.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 1:07pm

    Re: Re: Now That The Intelligence Community Got Away With Lying, How Can You Trust Anything They Say?

    All of this is completely irrelevant until the people actually do something about it. I'm sure the people of China have a high level of distrust toward their government too.

     

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  10.  
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    a real coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 1:08pm

    USSR saying

    ... I will wait for the official denial, to know that it is true.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 1:12pm

    Yeah!

     

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  12.  
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    MrPendent, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 1:13pm

    Uhhhh....

    Aren't these guys spies? Isn't the whole point of being a spy to lie? Why would anyone have trusted them in the first place?

    And as far as "not doing anything about the lying"--what could they possibly do? I mean, how do you prove that you aren't lying?

    Note that I am not defending the NSA by any stretch. I just always assumed they were doing this kind of thing. What surprises me about it is that they were so stupid as to allow an IT contractor to gain access, and that they are so very bad at covering this kind of stuff up. I mean, if they can't keep this kind of stuff from our politicians, they must just be spewing information at foreign operatives.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 1:19pm

    Re: Uhhhh....

    "Isn't the whole point of being a spy to lie?"

    Yes, but when you lie to the people you're spying FOR, it puts into question not only your actions, but the "intelligence" you gather as well.

     

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  14.  
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    Argonel (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 1:28pm

    Re:

    If their lips aren't moving the are only probably lying, but you should double check their non-statement just in case.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 1:54pm

    You mean someone else has finally come to this same conclusion? Amazing.

    This is exactly what I've been saying here off and on about you can't believe anything you are being told about what the NSA is doing from the Executive branch, the security apparatus, the Intelligence committee, the FISA court, nor from congress supposedly having been in the know about all this from back in 1997. Hello!

    The only solution that will once again provide trust in government is for a totally outside independent agent revealing just what is the truth in these matters and that's not going to happen as long as they have any say in the matter.

    The trust in government here has been totally shattered.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 1:57pm

    Both Alexander and Clapper have lied to Congress

    "General Keith Alexander was heckled by someone who accused him of lying to Congress as well, perhaps confusing Alexander for Clapper or perhaps assuming that Alexander told lies another time"
    Gen. Alexander lied to Congress in 2012. Gen. Clapper lied to Congress in 2013.
    In April 2012, William Binney said Alexander's testimony was intentionally misleading if not blatantly lying. Snowden's revelations confirmed that.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 2:02pm

    Susan Rice got promoted to National Security Adviser after lying to the American People on National TV. Maybe Clapper and Alexander are gunning for promotions too.

    That's the moral of the American story. The more you lie, the bigger the promotion.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 2:47pm

    Re:

    Which helps explain both of Obama's terms.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 3:10pm

    A new meme?

    Clapper - like a yapper - but closer to flat out lying.

    Govt: we are not spying!
    People: oh- shut the clapper. we can detect a lie
    ~~~~

    ex-boss: i fired him for running his clapper too much

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 5:39pm

    Re: Re:

    Yes, rest assured that the other guys do not lie at all because they are the good guys - amirite?

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 7:20pm

    Clapper was set up by Wyden's game of political theater. Yes, I understand about Wyden's prior expressions of concern given his access to security briefings, but he also well knew that asking this question in an open forum would box Clapper in and leave him no alternative that would avoid the disclosure, directly or indirectly, of classified information.

     

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  22.  
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    Pixelation, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 7:27pm

    Time to name it.

    The Spyinggate scandal.

    We are not criminals!

     

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  23.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:52pm

    Two problems with that:

    1. How hard would it have been to say 'That information is classified, but I can give it to you in private later on'?

    2. Clapper knew days in advance what questions were going to be asked, as they had been sent to him for review and so he would have his answers ready without having to dig for needed information, which means the fact that he still lied was very much deliberate, and not something caused by being 'boxed in' and not having answers ready.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2013 @ 1:42am

    Re:

    There's no way he could have clarified his statements when given opportunity to do so or just flat out said "that's classified"?

     

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  25.  
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    Pragmatic, Aug 2nd, 2013 @ 6:01am

    Re: Re:

    Oh, the irony!

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2013 @ 6:04am

    Re: Two problems with that:

    To say a classified meeting would be needed is a disclosure, something that Clapper did not deem appropriate to admit in a public forum.

    Yes, he knew a day in advance...but it is virtually impossible to say "no" to oversight committees that can influence whether or not your agency gets funded.

    What Wyden did was squeeze Clapper in public, knowing full well there was nothing Clapper could do other than deny the activity asked about by Wyden.

    Perhaps to persons like Manning and Snowden dealing with classified information in a public manner comes more easily, but it is obviously rare for such information to be treated as such. BTW, it is not that information is classified that concerns me. What does concern me is the manner by which determinations are made about who has a "need to know". It is the latter by which dissemination is controlled.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2013 @ 6:06am

    Re: Re:

    Again, that would have been on the public record, and that was precisely the problem/conundrum facing Clapper.

     

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  28.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Aug 2nd, 2013 @ 7:51am

    Re: Re: Two problems with that:

    ... what?

    Saying 'that's classified', to the people supposed to be providing oversight to them, is 'giving away too much information'? Saying simply 'yes we do', or 'no we do not' would provide vital intel to the public(otherwise known as the classified 'enemy' they refuse to name)?

    Which magically makes lying to the people providing oversight acceptable?

    Sorry, but if an agency is allowed to lie to the people who are supposed to provide oversight for them, then the entire idea of oversight is a complete and utter sham, nothing more than something to give an illusion of legitimacy to an agency that in reality has no real checks on what they are allowed to do.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2013 @ 9:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Two problems with that:

    Saying what you seem inclined to demand in a public forum is precisely the problem here that was visited upon Clapper. If he had said "yes", the world...including those with interests inimical to the US...would have confirmed for their benefit that such activities were going on. If he had said "yes, but it is classified" the same confirmation would have occurred. In matters of state "plausible deniability" is quite important.

    Besides, Wyden already knew the answer. He was just trying to get Clapper to admit it publicly, which is not a trivial matter.

    If Wyden wanted the answer on the public record, there was nothing keeping him from doing so. But, heck, why not try and get Clapper to do Wyden's dirty work?

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2013 @ 11:01am

    Alexander Lying Examples

    "...perhaps confusing Alexander for Clapper or perhaps assuming that Alexander told lies another time."

    First Alexander said this in congressional testimony:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmBAxEWxDFs&feature=youtu.be&t=1h29m50s

    Then this was revealed 4 days later:
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57589495-38/nsa-spying-flap-extends-to-contents-of-u.s-phone-cal ls/

    And now this has been revealed:
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/31/nsa-top-secret-program-online-data

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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