James Clapper: We Totes Shoulda Told You About Section 215

from the does-not-compute dept

Ever since Edward Snowden leaked information about the massive government surveillance being done both domestically and abroad by the NSA, the refrain that such leaks have put people in danger and harmed national security have been ongoing. Supporters of the NSA have specifically noted that leaks about section 215, the PATRIOT Act section that the NSA believes gives it the power to collect all telco traffic records, will prove to be absolutely catastrophic to our safety. Spy bigwig James Clapper himself wrote to Ron Wyden that section 215 leaks “will do significant damage to the intelligence community’s ability to protect the nation.”

Now, in a move that will surprise nobody, since Clapper is a proven liar, he has reversed course and says that the government should have told the American people about section 215.

“What did us in here, what worked against us was this shocking revelation,” he said, referring to the first disclosures from Snowden. If the program had been publicly introduced in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, most Americans would probably have supported it. “I don’t think it would be of any greater concern to most Americans than fingerprints. Well people kind of accept that because they know about it. But had we been transparent about it and say here’s one more thing we have to do as citizens for the common good, just like we have to go to airports two hours early and take our shoes off, all the other things we do for the common good, this is one more thing.”

Unbelievable. So the very same disclosure that turned Edward Snowden into a traitor and was going to do so much harm to American security is something Clapper says he should have done in the first place? With such an admission, where is the backlash against the continued prosecution of Snowden in the court of public opinion? Where is the embarrassed apology for lying to Americans about the dangers of the disclosures made previously? Lies, I might add, designed to scare the living hell out of people and chill speech, disclosures, and journalism.

I typically try to find some humor in every situation, but this kind of flip-flopping is bullshit on a level hitherto unseen. The credibility gap between Clapper and his ilk versus Edward Snowden might as well be the Grand Canyon. I’m a bit amazed the man has been allowed to keep his job, never mind his still being allowed to make media statements.

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Comments on “James Clapper: We Totes Shoulda Told You About Section 215”

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Anonymous Coward says:

it isn’t just that the public weren’t informed about 215, it was the fact that the NSA and others, have their own interpretation of what is in it, how it’s said and what it can lead to! how the hell is anyone supposed to know what the law says, what it means, if those who are trying to, planning to, prosecute someone, has no clue what he can and cant do, what he has or hasn’t done and why he is in the hands of law enforcement? then add into the equation the lawyer of the person(s) arrested. how is he/she supposed to represent the client(s) if the charges are withheld? it’s so fucking ridiculous, it has to be true and can only be true in the USA! everyone with the minimalist iota of sense has known from day one that the truth would come out. everyone has equally known that the person concerned who let out the truth, in this case Snowden, would be treated with the most amazing hostility and even when the truth was admitted, the person accused would remain accused. how absolutely disgraceful is that? Snowden did nothing except reveal the truth and he is still suffering for doing so. not because what he did was wrong, or put anyone in danger. he is suffering because, just like the US entertainment industries, they dont know when to let go, when to give in an suffer their losses. they would be thought a whole lot more of if they did that. as it is, who is going to believe the next load of shit that comes out of the White House or any of the law enforcements offices? no one, i would presume, if they had any sense!! catch me once, shame on you! catch me twice, shame on me!!

P.Locke says:

Re: James Clapper walks with impunity, Snowden forced into exile

LateBloomer: Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo, Jr. were found not guilty in a public trial; the Government of the United State convicted of recklessly destroying their right to a fair trial. Snowden must face a secret trial in FISA court stripped of the ability to put up a vigorous defense including the production of compelling evidence of government crimminality against the American people. The indictment of Messrs. Ellsberg and Russo on charges of espionage was also unusual, since there was no allegation, in court or out, that the defendants were acting in cooperation with a foreign government. They said they wanted only to help end the war by informing Congress and the American people of their own Government’s actions.

The government tried to show that the defendants had stolen government property—they were guilty of a theft that became an espionage charge because what they stole was classified “top secret” and affected national security. The defense response was that what was in the Pentagon Papers should never have been stamped secret to begin with. NSA should have told the AMericn people about the PRISM program after 9/11. Come clean with the people and Snoden wouldn’t have have to disclose anything!

John Fenderson (profile) says:

He really doesn't understand at all

“just like we have to go to airports two hours early and take our shoes off, all the other things we do for the common good, this is one more thing.”

If he had the slightest idea, he wouldn’t have brought up airport security as a comparison point. First, the ONLY reason that people — just barely — tolerate that nonsense is because if the conceit that if you’re really worried about it, you can choose not to get on a plane.

I suppose that technically you can choose to no longer communicate and avoid NSA collections, but I doubt if very many people would consider communicating an optional activity.

This is just another variation of the “you don’t care if Google/Facebook/whoever does it, why should you care if we do?” Lots of people care a lot and don’t use those services as a result. The argument is complete bullshit. It falls completely flat until we can opt out of NSA surveillance.

That Clapper and supporters don’t get this simple baffles me. But I think they fully understand and are just doing what they do best: lying their asses off.

Anonymous Coward says:

You want to hear another whopper of a statement...

This time it’s Stewart Baker. On Friday he and Daniel Ellsberg had a on-air debate that lasted almost the entire hour. The whole thing is pretty good but Stewart Baker made one kind of shocking claim that was sort of new that he really didn’t get hammered on perhaps because it was toward the very end of the show.

Point two, the question of the 2006 warrantless wiretapping, I certainly agree with Mr. Ellsberg that it?s very hard to square that with the statute, with FISA. The direction was given and the legal conclusion was reached that the president had the authority to order that, notwithstanding FISA, and there have been?there?s a long-standing view that the president does have authority to do this without the involvement of the courts. In fact, it was the majority view at least until 1978. But I think the passage of the FISA Act made that much harder to do.

That said, the FISA court at that point had utterly disgraced itself. It had forced a bunch of what it turns out are illegal requirements in the name of civil liberties on the FBI and the intelligence community that helped in a very significant way to make it difficult to respond to the news that there were hijackers or there were terrorists in the United States before 9/11. Had it not been for the FISA court?s wrong and extralegal policies, it?s quite possible that the hijackers would have been caught.

And after 9/11, after it became clear that this was part of the problem, the FISA court insisted on those illegal policies and forced the government to take its first appeal ever to the FISA review court. That suggested that the FISA court was not actually interested in protecting Americans, but had a goal that no one else in government shared, which was to maintain this wall between intelligence and law enforcement.

He actually blamed the FISC for 9/11. I’ve never seen anyone do that before.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: You want to hear another whopper of a statement...

That whole debate is really pretty good. Ellsberg pretty much rips him to shreds and he just flails spouting mostly the same old nonsense up until this point. I actually kind of wish it would have been someone like Alexander or Clapper who would have tried to blame the FISC for 9/11. If it had been, then maybe someone in the FISC might have taken exception to it and decided to stop rubberstamping the NSA’s requests.

Anonymous Coward says:

Fingerprints not a good example

?I don?t think it would be of any greater concern to most Americans than fingerprints.”

I still remember how offended I was when I first found out that the state required fingerprints just to get a driver license, despite not having any suspicion of wrongdoing. If I had the choice, my fingerprints would not be on file anywhere – but much like flying, driving is mandatory in modern life.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Fingerprints not a good example

It didn’t used to be that way either. It used to be that you were only finger printed if you were arrested for something. Part of the reason for that was the fact that finger printing people was a messy, somewhat time consuming process. Since the advent of digital scanners that can read finger prints and immediately dump them into a database, they decided to start collecting them all. I’m surprised there wasn’t a bigger push back against that when they first started doing it. I know I was pretty pissed when I found out they wanted that when I went to renew my license and encountered that for the first time.

Anonymous Coward says:

No Clapper, you aren’t sorry you didn’t tell people what you wanted to do before doing it because you know good and well the answer would have been not just No but Hell No. You are just sorry you got caught. My 6 year old understands the concept of not asking about something because you know the answer is going to be no. And she understands why she is in trouble when she does something she knows she shouldn’t be doing. She doesn’t try to justify it by saying she should have asked first. She knows that won’t fly and you damned well know it too. So just stop it already and just take all the heat you are getting because you also know damned well that it’s far less than what you deserve. You deserve jail time. But since we all know that is unlikely to happen, you are getting off extremely light. So why are you still bitching?

Anonymous Coward says:

I was almost willing to forgive Obama’s shortcomings with blame on the GOP controlled house and their ferocious opposition to him.
But not after all of this.
Not even close.
It is pathetic that these people continue to openly lie and not have any regard for the actual people they are supposed to be serving.
All I know is that at this point Obama is either incompetent or doesn’t actually care about the rights of the people who elected him. Either way he is NOT the man he was promised to be when he was up for his first election.

Anonymous Coward says:

The standard NSA FUD he previously toured with has been largely debunked/outplayed and the new arguments from Clapper is actually a move towards a real dialogue on the issues. Albeit, stupidly loaded with political mudthrowing ammunition and still very far from reality, he is atleast taking baby steps towards a real dialogue on the issues instead of pure patronizing “but terrorists”/”necessities policy” and deflections like “patriotic men” and “punish Snowden”.

Unfortunately the OP reads more like a rant on what he didn’t say and how stupid his previous FUD is, more than what he actually said here.

Anonymous Coward says:

Should have told the public? Lols. The NSA, DOJ, and the administration fought tooth and nail to prevent the release of that information.

The ACLU sent a FOIA request for the interpretation of just how the administration read Section 215 to mean on May 31, 2011. From this a shit storm erupted. Nor was this the first time. This came up in 2002.

The EFF won its’ case in Sept 2013 to have it revealed.

All government agencies and their lawyers attempted to stonewall, claim national security, and come up with anything to throw in the path to prevent this revelation.

This was not a mistake, not a could have or would have, or should have. It was a planned and co-ordinated response to prevent release and inspection of what they knew to be outside the legality of the system and as long as they could prevent court challenge they could continue without any check whatever. This is precisely what Senator Udall was speaking about when he said, “they will be stunned and they will be angry.”

To have liar Clapper now come out to say they should have told the American people rings as hollow and just another lie trying to find some way out of the unfavorable limelight.

FM Hilton (profile) says:

What is he thinking?

“If the program had been publicly introduced in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, most Americans would probably have supported it.I don?t think it would be of any greater concern to most Americans than fingerprints…”

I don’t think so. We were furious when the NY Times finally decided to allow us to know about the wiretapping that Bush did with Verizon (after about 18 months of stalling). We don’t like liars, and don’t like being lied to.

From a Salon article about this very event and it’s aftermath:

Link: http://www.salon.com/2010/04/01/nsa_4/

“In December, 2005, The New York Times revealed that the Bush administration had been doing for years exactly that which the law unambiguously said was a felony: eavesdropping on the electronic communications of Americans (telephone calls and emails) without warrants. We knew then it was a crime. Three federal judges have now concluded that it was illegal. And yet not only do we do nothing about it, but we stand by as the Obama administration calls this criminal program a vital ?state secret? and desperately tries to protect it and the lawbreakers from being subject to the rule of law. This decision may make it more difficult for the Obama administration to hide behind sweeping secrecy claims in the future, but it won?t negate the fact that we have decided that our leading political officials are completely free to commit crimes while in power and to do so with total impunity.”

You, Mr. Clapper are a liar and obviously delusional. We don’t like being spied on, or listened to-even when catastrophic events like 9/11 happen.

You seem to forget that there were a hell of a lot of Americans who did not want the Patriot Act done, either.

I think it’s time you retired from office, either voluntarily or otherwise. You’re no longer useful or wanted-except to be tried for federal eavesdropping laws that have been broken.

Anonymous Coward says:

Honesty and integrity are core values. We recognize that national leaders and the
American people at large have placed great trust in us, and we strive at all times to be
deserving of that trust
NSA/CSS Core Values

Clapper cannot In any way acknowledge his faults or accept any wrong doing at all , and he’s a Compulsive liar , Where’s the honor and dignity that’s supposed to come with the oath and core values

David says:

Re: Re:

Uh, you got that backwards. The oath is exactly because one does not take honor and dignity for granted: you are then legally bound at the cost of the heavy felony penalties for perjury to behave in a manner indistinguishable from having honor and dignity.

Unless you are part of the current administration. Then your fellow cronie and perjurer Attorney General Eric Holder will not initiate proceedings against you.

Anonymous Coward says:

The problem with his statement and all there PR ‘talking points’ is… That for years they did every thing possible to block/obstruct any legal attempt to challenge or even get disclosure of what they were doing, in a court of law. So taking a quote from John F Kennedy and changing it to make my point…

Those who make legal discovery impossible will make illegal disclosure inevitable.

David says:

The credibility gap between Clapper and his ilk versus Edward Snowden might as well be the Grand Canyon. I’m a bit amazed the man has been allowed to keep his job, never mind his still being allowed to make media statements.

Of course he has been allowed to keep his job. You can blame Edward Snowden for it. Or rather, the government will blame Edward Snowden for it.

You cannot fire a lying traitor, perjurer, psychopath and weasel screwing over the U.S. for personal gain and power because doing so would suggest that Edward Snowden is winning.

And with him, the American people.

We cannot have that. Where is the point in funneling the taxpayers’ money off into a large industry screwing and controlling and blackmailing people when somebody with a conscience is allowed to endanger the job of a godfather in the clan governing us for our own good?

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