James Clapper Admits That The Debate Snowden Created 'Needed To Happen'

from the then-why-didn't-it-happen dept

Director of National Intelligence and confessed liar to Congress, James Clapper, has now admitted that the debate over what the intelligence community has been doing, brought on by Ed Snowden's leaks, "needed to happen."
"I think it's clear that some of the conversations this has generated, some of the debate, actually needed to happen," Clapper told a defense and intelligence contractor trade group. "If there's a good side to this, maybe that's it."
Well, isn't that interesting? Of course, considering that he was the Director of National Intelligence and that the oversight committee, which is supposed to keep him in line, tried to start that debate a few months ago and Clapper's response was to flat-out lie to them, it seems worth questioning why it appears that he did everything possible to avoid having that debate? It also raises the question of why he's still in a job (and not facing charges).

Clapper also admits that he knows that the leaks aren't done:
"Unfortunately, there is more to come," he said.
Seeing as the existing leaks helped push forward a debate that "needed to happen," I don't see what's so unfortunate about that.

Clapper also insisted that those awful journalists covering the story have been letting their minds run wild:
Journalists examining the surveillance programs that Snowden disclosed "go to the deepest darkest place they can and make the most conspiratorial case for what the intelligence community is doing."
Two things about that. First, so far what we've seen after pretty much every leak is that Clapper's office or others in the administration make a statement that includes a bunch of weasel words that are redefined to mean something different than what the public actually thinks -- and those "non-lie lies" are then exposed in later revelations from the leaks. Given that, is it really any surprise that people have little trust in what the intelligence community is saying?

Second, you know how you avoid having journalists take the details of the program and "going to the deepest darkest place and making the most conspiratorial case for what the intelligence community is doing"? It's called being more open and transparent and actually having the debate that you're now running from.

Besides, considering some of the existing leaks about rampant abuses (some not defined as abuses), dreadful coverups, the inability to know what Snowden took or how he took it, the economic espionage, the finding internal informants to help get around encryption and a variety of other very questionable things, is it any wonder that people don't trust the NSA?

Filed Under: debate, ed snowden, intelligence community, james clapper, nsa, nsa surveillance

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The First Word

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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 19 Sep 2013 @ 12:47am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Kerr was cited as an example among many. Another individual was also cited as an example, but he was summarily dismissed because of who he is and not what he had to say. To say I found "one" is not accurate at all. Moreover, I mentioned Orin's comments precisely because just days earlier you had spoken well of him as knowledgeable in this area, going so far as to suggest his being a member of an independent panel to review NDA activities. I have no reason the believe you have changed your mind regarding Orin, so it seems rather strange you would dismiss his comments concerning the choices presented to Clapper.

    As I noted in my post that mentioned Kerr, I often disagreed with him, and find him too willing to support the surveillance state. But I thought he'd be a valuable voice on the panel. I had no idea you think that I should only name people I need to agree with 100%.

    I think Kerr is wrong on this one. I disagree with him fairly frequently, but unlike you, I find that he can have an honest and thoughtful discussion when there's disagreement.

    Also, unlike you, he's shown that his arguments come from a position of deep thought, not kneejerk cluelessness.

    Yes, you provided a possible response, and both my comments and those by Kerr pointed out why such a response would be problematic.

    No, they didn't. They falsely claimed that suggesting that a full answer would be in classified sessions would somehow reveal classified information. This is simply incorrect. It would not. Senator Wyden was quite clear with his question that it in no way was asking to reveal any classified programs. Instead, it was asking for unclassified information: whether or not information was being collected on Americans. That is not classified. The specifics of the program (what's being collected, how, how long it's stored, where it comes from, etc.) may all be collected. But whether or not the NSA is spying on Americans? Uh, no, that's not classified.

    Why this would be so would be more apparent to persons such as yourself if you worked in an environment requiring access to classified information, and especially very high level classified information.

    I've discussed this directly with multiple people who have or have had high level classifications. Just today I had lunch with a former CIA agent and he found your argument "insane" and "remedial."

    I know, I know, from our debates in the past on issues related to IP, that you like to think that I don't actually know anyone in these spaces and that I do not confer with experts in the field. You're wrong. Again.

    The Groves hypo was solely for the purpose of trying to convey an extreme situation where it would be hard to deny that an answer along the lines of what you insist Clapper should have given would have been problematic.

    No, it was a stupid hypo that (1) was not analogous and (2) again could have been answered truthfully without revealing any classified information. That you believe otherwise suggests a significant mental block.

    No reasonable person should doubt that such an answer would have conveyed useful information to select third parties.

    Uh, no. You're wrong. Merely saying "We do not discuss our capabilities or plans in unclassified settings" does not reveal a damn thing. It's the same answer that he should give for any question related to weapons capabilities, and because it could be asked of the nuclear bomb or alien-technology laser rays from space, it would not reveal anything.

    It is only in retrospect that you think it reveals something because you now know that such a program did, in fact, exist.

    Furthermore, we know that Clapper can answer similar questions in similar settings, as he did in the past: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110728/02210915297/intelligence-chief-to-wyden-it-would-be-diffic ult-to-reveal-what-you-want-us-to-reveal-because-we-dont-want-to-reveal-it.shtml

    Note that in response to a similar question, he points Wyden to a set of classified reports. Later, in response to a question about FAA abuses, he also points to classified report. And no one flipped out and claimed he revealed anything. In fact, quite the opposite.

    Turning to Wyden, he already knew the answer...as did everyone else on the Senate committee. It has been reported by many sources that the question had been asked and answered in classified briefings. What he did was try and force the movement of classified information into the public eye.

    Again, this is false. What he sought was clearly NOT CLASSIFIED information. And, if the answer touched on classified info there are ways -- as Clapper had shown Wyden in previous communications -- to answer those questions by saying details are classified, without revealing anything sensitive.

    Let's get this straight: you are wrong. There are many ways to answer these sorts of questions without revealing classified information. Clapper chose not to do so. He lied to Congress, which is against the law.

    Therefore it is entirely reasonable for me to call out the fact that he is a liar.

    You are wrong. You should admit it.

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