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.

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Comments on “Why James Clapper Should Be Impeached For Lying To Congress”

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Rikuo (profile) says:

And this of course begs the question of why Bradley Manning and other whistle-blowers are being threatened with “treason” and the death penalty…when the very people targeting them have been shown to be categorically, unequivocally guilty of much worse.
My opinion? Give Clapper one opportunity (more than Manning was given) in an open court, and when he fails (foregone conclusion, after all, how can you defend lying about a simple question like this?) take him out back and shoot him. That’s the penalty reserved for traitors, isn’t it?

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re:

Y U no debate me!?
Pirate Mike!

Now that that is behind us, can we act like adults and have a proper conversation?

If this is a demonstration of your debating skills, no wonder your comment got reported.

If you want a genuine debate, make your point in a reasonable post in which you ask a question about the subject of the post. Be prepared to be challenged or corrected, and take it on the chin if you are.

Rinse and repeat, learning as you go, being willing to accept the truth as true even if it contradicts your stated opinion OR defend your opinion with provable facts.

That is how to debate.

Calling people names and throwing tantrums because they disagree with you will get you reported again and again because we don’t like to wade through blocks of drivel to get to the comments we find interesting. Ad hominem attacks and insults aren’t interesting. They’re childish. And can the histrionics. Baseless rants against Google, etc. make it hard to take anyone seriously.

out_of_the_blue says:

Fine to focus on ONE! But there's NO shortage of conspirators.

Google, for instance. Apparently some here think that my focus on Google as the worst means that I’m for the other corporations, or just don’t care. No, as I’ve pointed out several times, ALL the actors under discussion can be wrong, you don’t have to pick a “side”.

Clapper and Google are clearly on the same side, and both clearly acting against the people.

Loki says:

Re: Fine to focus on ONE! But there's NO shortage of conspirators.

Agreed, but if your going to pick a specific company to harp on, why not pick on Microsoft (or at least give them “equal time”? Bing for example, does everything Google search does (it’s just that nobody actually uses Bing). Plus if the NSA really does have a backdoor key to Windows (going all the way back to 1999 by some claims, and just look at the exponential eavesdropping claims against Skype since Microsoft took them over) like some have claimed, they probably wouldn’t necessarily need the direct cooperation of the other companies to collect harvest that data (I’m not technical enough to know for sure myself, but I’ve heard it is possible, just a lot more difficult that way). Plus, in all the rebuttals I’ve seen flying around, I’ve seen next to nothing out of Redmond about anything.

Or how about Yahoo? They are on the list as well, and they’ve just changed their email practices to allow all emails to be scanned (for the claimed purpose of targeted advertising), just like Google (and I presume Microsoft, though I’m not sure) has for a while now. Coincidence? I don’t know.

Your infatuation with Google, to the exclusion of pretty much everyone else, just makes you look like some sort of shill.

FM Hilton (profile) says:


In 1975, Frank Church attempted to reform the status quo of the intelligence community, and thus this is why we’re here today:

“The Church Committee was the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, a U.S. Senate committee chaired by Senator Frank Church (D-ID) in 1975. A precursor to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the committee investigated intelligence gathering for illegality by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after certain activities had been revealed by the Watergate affair.”

“The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) were inspired by the recommendations of the Church Committee. Today, the FISC oversees requests for surveillance warrants of suspected foreign intelligence agents inside the United States by federal police agencies. Also as a result, Colby was replaced by George Bush as CIA director.”

The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again.
If Nixon had just not bugged the Democratic Committee’s offices, we’d not be having this problem and discussion.

ShellMG (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Impeachment is the process by which an official is found guilty or innocent of malfeasance. If he/she is found guilty they are Removed.

I’m convinced that nobody will ever be removed from office or fired because of these ongoing IRS, NSA, PRISM, Benghazi, etc. violations. NOBODY is going to stop the abuse, no one is going to confess to abuse, and they’re going to get away with it.

In fact, Susan Rice got promoted to LEAD the NSA after a marathon lying-to-the-media session post Benghazi attack. Seems to me Clapper can expect a nice raise and title in the near future.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Iraq, WMD, could 9/11 have been prevented… there’s plenty from the previous administration that is at least as bad, if not more so.

Seriously, how many embassy bombings and american deaths were their under the Shrub? And yet 4 people in Benghazi, just because it was a Democratic president…

Hang on. Lots of people died in embassy bombings under Clinton too. So it’s not because it’s a Democratic president. I wonder what the motivation is then?

Anonymous Coward says:

Wyden Statement Responding to Director Clapper?s Statements About Collection on Americans

Senator Ron Wyden, of Oregon, issued a press release today on the topic of DNI James Clapper’s March statement before the
Senate Intelligence Committee.

I’ve already posted the entire text of Senator Wyden’s press release, under a different article, so I’m just going to provide a link to it here.

?Wyden Statement Responding to Director Clapper?s Statements About Collection on Americans? (June 11, 2013)


Anonymous Coward says:

Is It Just About PRISM?

The headline on Derek Khanna’s piece is, “Should the Director of National Intelligence Be Impeached for Lying to Congress About PRISM?”. And, in Khanna’s op ed, he writes

[Senator Wyden] was specifically asking about what we now know as PRISM

But is this about PRISM? Or about the Verizon call records program?

In the exchange between Senator Wyden and DNI Clapper, I don’t see any limitation to a particular named program.

While DNI Clapper says he was referring to email, I don’t even see that limitation in either Senator Wyden’s questioning, or in Mr Clapper’s response.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Is It Just About PRISM?

But is this about PRISM? Or about the Verizon call records program?

It’s about the call records.

One unfortunate thing about the rapid succession of links is that many people are lumping in everything and calling it PRISM. That’s unfortunate, because PRISM appears to be not that big of a deal, and now people will brush off the stuff that is a big deal by calling it PRISM.

Anonymous Coward says:

i cant see that it is going to make any difference really. Congress dont know how to tell the truth about anything either. every citizen in the USA is used. there is no other way of putting it. they are not wanted for anything other than to cast votes and to spend money. they are, in return, supposed to keep their mouths shut, suffer any and all hardship and any and all indignity, losing any and all freedom and privacy in order to keep those that wanted the votes, promising everything in return, in the manner to which they have become accustomed. also, dont forget, this is not the only government doing this! the USA bitch, the UK is as far down the crap slide as the USA and also thinks the same of it’s people as the USA does about it’s. there is mounting suspicion that a worldwide conspiracy is afoot. look at how the head of Turkey, Erdogan, is treating his people. no different to how Assad is treating the people of Syria. no government is taking any notice whatsoever of their people! all are treating them like they are the scum of the Earth! something needs to change and bloody quick before there are serious repercussions! once Russia takes a serious step on the side of both of these, shit is gonna hit fan! and the USA is gonna want allies. i wonder, given what has been/still is happening, who will want to join in??

corwin155 (profile) says:

Law enforcment

we see this in all law enforcement , they lie and break the very laws that would put anyone else in prison.
from what we all see they are immune to prosecution.
as long as they are part of law enforcement, they feel they are exempt from the law.
if the Nsa can break the law , then civilian enforcement start to do exactly the same thing.
which they are doing.

Friend of the cause says:

Take another perspective

Do you not realize that intelligence is a business that is conducted in the shadows. Unwittingly collected does not mean that data is looked at, this capability is one of the many tools that allow the US and its allies to sleep a little safely at night or conversely look to track down more threats that impact our way of life,
. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Imagine what life would be like without intelligence services looking out for our best interests. Are you really not willing to trade a little privacy for security from terrorism or any other criminal affiliate?

Reality people says:

Widen is on the intelligence committee

Regardless of what you think of the program (I’m tearing my hair out personally) Wyden is one of the Senators fully briefed on these programs.

So Wyden was aware of the program and asking a high level intelligence official to reveal classified information at a public hearing. Wyden didn’t press it because then HE would have been leaking classified information.

The sygestion the author is making is that Clapper was required to commit a felony (divulging classified info) by answering the question.

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