Why James Clapper Should Be Impeached For Lying To Congress
from the throw-him-out dept
We’ve already covered how Director of National Intelligence James Clapper not only lied to Congress, but has now admitted he lied by claiming he told the “least untruthful answer” he could think of, which was extremely untruthful, in that it was untruthful. He was asked whether or not the NSA collects any type of data on millions of Americans and he said no. The full collection of records on every phone call for the past seven years (at least) proves that statement was categorically false. Derek Khanna has an excellent and detailed opinion piece up on how this clearly constitutes an impeachable offense in the form of lying to Congress.
The whole thing is worth reading, but after going through the background leading up to the question and answer, followed by an explanation that Wyden clearly wasn’t fishing, but was asking from direct knowledge of what the NSA was doing, Khanna gets to the point of why this is so horrific for a functioning democracy:
Clapper’s statement appears to have misled the relevant Congressional Committee, and more importantly, misled Members of Congress who don’t receive the information that the Intelligence Committee receives. Ultimately these statements misled the general public. This obfuscation of the truth inhibited the Intelligence Committee from performing proper oversight, which is the primary role of the Intelligence Committee. There is little point in having an oversight committee for intelligence if members of the intelligence community can simply lie when asked questions before a hearing.
Misspeaking at a hearing may be a mistake. Misspeaking before the Intelligence Committee is an extremely grievous mistake. But even more egregious here is the Clapper had ample time to correct the record and apparently failed to do so. Statements made at hearings are not coffee shop like discussions; rather, they are carefully prepared in advance. If Clapper did not have a prepared answer for this question, it’s extremely likely that the NSA counsel would have reviewed his statement after the hearing – putting him on notice that if his statement was incorrect he had the obligation to correct it. In fact, if the NSA’s counsel knew that Clapper was lying or misspeaking, he may have had a legal obligation to tell Clapper to inform the Committee of his misstatement. And, under a similar procedure for lying at court, if Clapper refused to correct the record then the Counsel may have had an obligation to tell the Committee anyway. This gives some perspective on the legal severity of lying to a congressional committee.
In other words, if Clapper is allowed to lie, expect plenty of other administration officials to lie as well, and say goodbye to any oversight authority that Congress may have once had.
Furthermore, as Khanna points out, President Obama’s claims that Congress was “fully informed” about these programs ring hollow when put into context:
President Obama has claimed that Congress was aware of all ongoing programs of this nature. The Administration can’t have it both ways. It can’t claim that Congress was in the loop and signed off when the Director of National Intelligence appears to have at best misled and at worst lied to the relevant oversight branch.
We’ve gone through this before. The intelligence community’s rogue nature was supposed to have been reined in 40 years or so ago, but in the last decade it appears to have gone right back to the way it used to be. If there is no real oversight, is it really any surprise that they start increasingly looking to expand and abuse the tools they have at their disposal. It seems, at the very least, that Congress should be exploring, deeply, whether or not the administration, and James Clapper in particular, directly lied to Congress, and then continued to lie after that initial lie.