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.
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. https://t.co/i6jls7I9Em
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) March 6, 2019
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.