Apparently James Clapper And The NSA Don't See Eye-To-Eye On Transparency
from the that-could-get-interesting dept
For the most part, following the fallout from the NSA surveillance leaks, the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, and the head of the NSA, Keith Alexander, have seemed almost interchangeable. While Clapper technically ranks above Alexander in the administration pecking order, both have basically presented the same (dubious) arguments in favor of the NSA’s activities, and their statements have been in such lockstep that you could exchange quotes from one for the other without noticing much, if any, difference. However, in a recent Washington Post profile of Clapper, it appears that there may at least be some cracking of the facade of unity. While it’s not a major part of the Clapper profile, the article, by David Ignatius, does note that when that important 2011 FISA court ruling was declassified a couple of months ago, the NSA wanted to redact large parts of the decision, and Clapper actually pushed back, demanding greater transparency, before having his own top lawyer redo the redactions, so that much less ended up being redacted:
One example is Clapper’s pressure on the NSA to disclose more about its surveillance programs. The NSA initially wanted to “redact” (a fancy word for censor) far more of a 2011 ruling by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the agency had engaged in illegally broad surveillance. Clapper thought NSA lawyers were suppressing too much, so he instructed his general counsel, Robert Litt, to go back through the document and make public more information. Clapper ignored NSA and Justice Department protests, including to the White House, and backed Litt’s less-redacted version.
Of course, this story leaves out the part about how pretty much everyone, including Clapper, initially fought against having any part of this decision released until they were forced to do so by the EFF in a lawsuit.
That said, it’s still interesting to see that, when it comes to that situation, Clapper is at least willing to go against the NSA behind closed doors, even if he’s in lock-step with them publicly.