60 Minutes Continues Its Track Record Of Letting US National Security Officials Lie On Camera Without Challenge
from the and-another-one dept
Apparently, CBS News’ 60 Minutes show is looking to end the year by being the choice of intelligence community propagandists everywhere, rather than listening to their well-respected colleague Morley Safer (still reporting at age 82) who once wrote a column quoting a US official telling him “look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you’re stupid.” Safer’s colleagues at 60 Minutes would do well to keep that in mind, but when it comes to national security issues, they seem to prefer, as “reporter” John Miller has admitted, to be there solely to help the NSA get their side of the story out, no matter how bogus it might be.
The week after Miller’s big NSA love letter, 60 Minutes followed it up this week by having Lesley Stahl interview national security adviser to the President, Susan Rice. Rice makes a few claims that are just ridiculous. Here’s the most ridiculous:
Lesley Stahl: Officials in the intelligence community have actually been untruthful both to the American public in hearings in Congress and to the FISA Court.
Susan Rice: There have been cases where they have inadvertently made false representations. And they themselves have discovered it and corrected it.
This is not true. James Clapper flat out lied to Congress, and not inadvertently, either. In fact, the only use of the word “inadvertently” came in the direct lie that Clapper told, when he said that the US may “inadvertently” collect data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.
Furthermore, the idea that “they themselves have discovered and corrected it” is also completely and totally bogus. As Ron Wyden has noted, he not only sent Clapper that question ahead of time, the very next day, his office contacted Clapper’s office to ask if Clapper wanted to change his answer, and Clapper refused to do so. Then, when the Snowden leaks came out, proving that Clapper had lied, Clapper still tried to deny it. First he lied again, by saying he thought Wyden asked a different question (about email collections), but then Wyden pointed out that this was untrue, since he had sent Clapper the question the day before and the wording of the question was very clear. Next, Clapper claimed that it was impossible to answer the “have you stopped beating your wife” question in a “yes or no” manner — even though the question was nothing like that. Then he finally said that he gave “the least untruthful” answer, by which he meant he flat out lied.
It was only once the public pointed out that he was lying that Clapper was forced to send a letter admitting that he spoke “erroneously.”
So, Rice is either totally misinformed, or she’s lying again to try to play down James Clapper lying to Congress. To claim both that the lies were “inadvertent” and that they were discovered by the intelligence community themselves and corrected is simply, unequivocally, false. Stahl could have called her out on this, but didn’t. Honestly, my guess is that Rice is getting her talking points mixed up. The NSA likes to claim that when the NSA analysts have abused the system to spy on people illegally (such as “love interests”) that they’ve discovered it themselves and reported it. Of course, even that’s untrue. Many of the abuses were discovered years later — and it’s likely many were never discovered.
Meanwhile, as Rice completely brushes off the actual crime committed by Clapper by lying about, she also ratchets up the claims against Snowden… by lying about him as well. As Philip Bump points out, Stahl asks the same ridiculous question that keeps getting asked about will the administration offer Snowden amnesty for no longer releasing any more documents, ignoring that Snowden has already said that he no longer has the documents anyway. There’s also the rotating claims of how many documents Snowden took (as if you can define “document” as a single entity anyway). For a while the claim was tens of thousands — with most placing it in the 50,000 to 70,000 range. Yet, on last week’s 60 Minutes suddenly it was 1.7 million documents. This past week it was just 1.5 million.
60 Minutes had a reputation for holding the government’s feet to the fire on things with tough, knowledgeable questions. Lately, though, it seems to think its role is to act as a PR channel for the NSA.