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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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2013 @ 9:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The above comments take me to task for even suggesting that Clapper faced a dilemma when Wyden asked his question during a public hearing last Spring. Unhesitatingly you and others provide examples of how Clapper should have responded at the public hearing. You see no dilemma faced by Clapper, and you see no possibility of relevant classified information being disclosed by what you consider to be the only proper response.

    A few days ago you recommend several individuals for membership on an independent board tasked with investigating the NSA's collection activities, one of whom was Orin Kerr.

    It may come as a surprise that Orin does not share your certainty about the testimonial choices facing Clapper. He states:

    "DNI James Clapper has apologized for his “clearly erroneous” testimony before Congress about NSA surveillance. The underlying question is a tricky one, though: How can you have public testimony about classified activities? Senator Wyden had been briefed about the NSA program, and he knew the answer to the question. So he intentionally asked Clapper the question to pressure Clapper to disclose the classified program. Clapper had three choices: Disclose the classified program, give “clearly erroneous” testimony, or clam up and say that he couldn’t answer (effectively saying “yes”). The only way to avoid being placed in that dilemma was not to testify at all. No good options there, at least if you accept that we want open testimony, that witnesses should tell the truth, and that classified programs should stay classified.

    Of course you can cherry pick what Orin stated, but it cannot be denied that its basic thrust is in consonance with my observations. Clapper could have said "Why yes, we collect damn near every electromagnetic signal throughout the universe" (not really a choice since it would have disclosed the existence of a highly classified program), said "Sorry Senator Wyden, but no can do here" (a tacit admission that there is a classified program in existence), said "Nope" (not truthful, but then again not conveying any classified information to persons not having the requisite security clearance or not having a need to know", or he could have simply told the committee "Sorry, but I cannot attend because of a scheduling conflict".

    As I have been trying to point out, Clapper was deliberately placed in a position by Wyden which Wyden well knew would be untenable if Clapper was to preserve classified information. My pushback with regard to Wyden is that he could just as easily have challenged at that hearing Clapper's response. Instead he chose to remain silent at the hearing and subsequently. Is there any doubt he would have remained silent but for Snowden appearing on the scene? Sorry, but in my opinion Wyden should be viewed with the same offensiveness many direct at Clapper.

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