White House Changing Its Story On James Clapper's Role In Independent Surveillance Review
from the straight-answers,-please dept
As you might imagine, many people found this somewhat ridiculous -- beyond having a fox guard the henhouse, this was asking the fox to set up the group to look into what happened to all those missing chickens. It was just laughable. Today, however, the White House is claiming... something. They're saying that Clapper isn't setting up the group or leading it:
"Director Clapper will not be a part of the group, and is not leading or directing the group’s efforts," Caitlin Hayden, a White House spokeswoman, told The Hill on Tuesday.It seems like, as with absolutely everything in this discussion, Clapper and the administration are choosing their words very, very, very carefully. Here they're saying that he won't be "leading" the group or "directing" the group. But no one has argued that. They're saying -- as the White House did -- that he's in charge of setting up the group. Now, the White House seems to be suggesting that "establishing" the group is different from "selecting the members," which is possible if the process for "establishing" the group is James Clapper holding out his hands and saying, "poof, this group has been established" and then someone else picks the members.
"The White House is selecting the members of the Review Group, consulting appropriately with the Intelligence Community," she said, adding that the administration expects to announce the members of the group soon.
Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the director of national intelligence, also said that the group will "not be under direction of or led by" Clapper.
Also, while Clapper may not be a "member" of the group and won't "lead" it, the group is clearly reporting to Clapper. From President Obama's letter:
the Review Group will brief their interim findings to me through the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), and the Review Group will provide a final report and recommendations to me through the DNI no later than December 15, 2013.So, yes, Clapper isn't leading the day-to-day review by the group, but its report is going straight to him, which makes it anything but independent.
Honestly, this kind of doubletalk is the exact kind of thing that's pissing so many people off about this. If President Obama's goal here was to rebuild trust, telling Clapper to "establish" this group and to have the group report to Clapper... and then, a day later, having the White House carefully choose their language to pretend that Clapper is separate from the group is not the way to do it. Involving Clapper in the first place was a mistake. Actually, having Clapper still on the job after his admitted lying to Congress was a big mistake. Dancing around the fact that he's involved is just making the administration look worse and worse.