Clapper Continues To Pretend He Didn't Lie To Congress About Domestic Surveillance Programs

from the six-years-of-deflection dept

James Clapper is going to take his Section 215 lie to his grave. One day after the first Snowden leak exposed the breadth of the NSA’s phone metadata program, Sen. Ron Wyden asked the then-Director of National Intelligence if the agency collected data on Americans. Despite published documents clearly showing otherwise, Clapper went with this answer:

Wyden: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?

Clapper: No sir.

Wyden: It does not?

Clapper: Not wittingly. There are cases where they could, inadvertently perhaps, collect—but not wittingly.

Since everyone clearly knew he was lying, Clapper spent the next several days claiming he wasn’t. First, he said he meant the NSA wasn’t “voyeurestically” reading everyone’s emails. Good, but not what Wyden asked. Then he said it was the only response he could give to Wyden’s “when did you stop beating your wife” question. Then he claimed he thought Wyden was asking about another collection entirely: the foreign-facing Section 702 program (which does, inadvertently, collect a lot of US person data/communications).

This is the legacy Clapper has secured for himself. He won’t be remembered for his IC leadership or his post-IC career talking headmanship. Nope, it will be his super-weak, super-transparent lie, delivered to a US Senator against a backdrop of leaked documents showing the NSA did “wittingly” collect data on hundreds of millions of Americans.

Nearly six years later, Clapper is telling the same story to anyone who asks him about this hearing, ensuring the word “Clapper” and “lie” will remain inseparable. The Section 215 program Clapper was alluding to — the program exposed in the first Snowden leak — is back in the news, thanks to an unexpected early retirement.

In an interview with CNN about the surprise Section 215 shutdown, Clapper again pretended he didn’t know what program he was being asked about.

“As far as the comment, the allegation about my lying, I didn’t lie, I made a big mistake and I just simply didn’t understand what I was being asked about. I thought of another surveillance program, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act when I was being asked about Section 215 of the Patriot Act at the time, I just didn’t understand that…”

Clapper’s repetition of this excuse hasn’t made it any more believable. None other than Senator Ron Wyden popped up on Twitter to point out Clapper’s lies about his lie.

If you can’t see/read the tweet, it says:

James Clapper needs to stop making excuses for lying to the American people about mass surveillance. To be clear: I sent him the question in advance. I asked him to correct the record afterward. He chose to let the lie stand.

That’s the face of IC leadership, as portrayed by James Clapper. Clapper managed to exit the public sector unscathed, turning over a limping surveillance ship to his successor while stepping into the private sector with no threat of punishment hanging over his head. He lied to Congress and got away with it. And he’s going to spend the rest of his life pretending he didn’t.

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Comments on “Clapper Continues To Pretend He Didn't Lie To Congress About Domestic Surveillance Programs”

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27 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

'This is not the lie you're looking for...'

He lied to Congress and got away with it. And he’s going to spend the rest of his life pretending he didn’t.

And undermining any reason to ever trust him every single time he does it.

People lie, it’s not good, but it happens, whether from panicking or not wanting to admit the truth for whatever reason. An honest person, once caught out on their lie will own it, admit to having lied and show remorse for having done so.

Conversely, if instead they double-down(or whatever he’s up to at this point…) and insist that they didn’t lie when everyone knows they did all they do is make clear that they have no remorse for what they did, and are willing to lie more in order to defend the original lie, such that you’d be a fool to believe anything they say since they’ve demonstrated that they consider it perfectly acceptable to lie if they believe that it would be beneficial to them to do so.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 'This is not the lie you're looking for...'

But what he’s also done is show that if you can stick to the same story, you can escape unscathed, whereas if you admit that all the evidence is true, you’ll have your career destroyed.

So now we need people willing to prove the opposite is also possible.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Swamp Thing

Lying to congress, in testimony, is a crime akin to perjury. Michael Cohen is going to jail in part for that crime, and it was part of the articles of impeachment of both Nixon and Clinton. Members of Congress are mostly protected from that crime via the wide latitude provided by the Speech and Debate clause of the Constitution. Members of congress are also rarely testifying in front of Congress.

The real issue is the crime is rarely prosecuted at all, unless other related crimes are being prosecuted.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Swamp Thing

Congress has no Constitutional authority to subpoena anyone nor compel testimony.

These are special "Judicial Powers" …. which are solely granted to the U.S. Supreme Court under Article III, Section I.

Congress simply granted itsel these judicial powers out of thin air.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Swamp Thing

SCOTUS has independently amended the Constitution hundreds of times … in direct violation of the Constitutional text (Supreme Law of the Land).

You can read — please cite the Constitutional text that grants Congress subpoena power and authority to compel testimony.

It’s absurd to think Congress has legal power to drag any American into its chambers and interrogate them on any subject that Congress has some passing whim of interest in.

Does the U.S. President also have this power ?
Trump is the chief law enforcement officer of the nation … commanding DOJ, FBI, etc.
Why can”t he drag whoever he wants into the White House basement and grill them on any allegation under the sun?

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The line for Republicans appears to be "ask what’s so bad about white supremacy".

Although you may only get in trouble for that if you’re a congressman who nobody likes. If Trump had said what Steve King did, I suspect we’d get the usual response of "we’re very troubled by this" followed by no repercussions whatsoever.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Well there are very spineless people on both sides… both sides.

One thinks the only reason they tsk tsk tsked King, is he was on his own being bold ahead of the curve.

We deserve better but this is the party of legitimate rape who had their share of the sex offender payoff slush fund & won’t say who got their sins paid off like buying indulgences from the pope.

For some reason as long as a politician has the "right" answer to a couple dog whistle issues, they will keep getting elected & sins will be ignored.

Gary (profile) says:

Re: Re: Policy

He used his very first press conference to lie about the crowd, and unjustly accused the press of lying. And hasn’t stopped since:
https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-us-canada-38707723/donald-trump-media-lied-about-inauguration-crowds

So – are you going to tell me he wasn’t lying, or that it doesn’t matter? Or both?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Wyden the weakling

230 is interesting in that it ended up subverting the whole CDA, by being the only significant part not thrown out by courts; but also pointless for the same reason and because the courts would have eventually invented a similar rule.

Wyden was one of a few people to even try to educate the public about Clapper’s lies and what was really happening at the NSA. In general he came across as reasonable and willing to learn, unlike some others prone to partisan bickering, and I think that’s what got him some respect here. He’s certainly not a God; I’d have loved it if he simply released the documents to prove Clapper was lying, released the secret court cases allowing such interpretations… he had the ability and legal immunity to do that, and I gotta agree it’s weakness that he didn’t (but 99 senators were weaker).

Anonymous Coward says:

We don’t believe Clapper and we don’t fall for identity politics. We are a gay couple who has been together for 20 years. In 2016, we voted for the Republican ticket. It was harder to tell our friends that we were voting Republican than it was telling our family we were gay 20 years ago. We found ourselves stepping out of one closet and stepping into a darker one. Our "friends" knew how we were going to vote leading up to the election. They quickly deleted us from Facebook, sent us nasty and hateful messages, left voice mails on our phone calling us traitors, and immediately dropped us from social events. Like Thanos’ snap, they disappeared within a matter of seconds. These actions just solidified and validated our choice even more. What did we do to respond? Took pictures of us eating Chik-fil-a fries and shopping at Hobby Lobby and shared it. We are voting Republican again in 2020.

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