James Clapper: We Totes Shoulda Told You About Section 215

from the does-not-compute dept

Ever since Edward Snowden leaked information about the massive government surveillance being done both domestically and abroad by the NSA, the refrain that such leaks have put people in danger and harmed national security have been ongoing. Supporters of the NSA have specifically noted that leaks about section 215, the PATRIOT Act section that the NSA believes gives it the power to collect all telco traffic records, will prove to be absolutely catastrophic to our safety. Spy bigwig James Clapper himself wrote to Ron Wyden that section 215 leaks "will do significant damage to the intelligence community's ability to protect the nation."

Now, in a move that will surprise nobody, since Clapper is a proven liar, he has reversed course and says that the government should have told the American people about section 215.

“What did us in here, what worked against us was this shocking revelation,” he said, referring to the first disclosures from Snowden. If the program had been publicly introduced in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, most Americans would probably have supported it. “I don’t think it would be of any greater concern to most Americans than fingerprints. Well people kind of accept that because they know about it. But had we been transparent about it and say here’s one more thing we have to do as citizens for the common good, just like we have to go to airports two hours early and take our shoes off, all the other things we do for the common good, this is one more thing.”
Unbelievable. So the very same disclosure that turned Edward Snowden into a traitor and was going to do so much harm to American security is something Clapper says he should have done in the first place? With such an admission, where is the backlash against the continued prosecution of Snowden in the court of public opinion? Where is the embarrassed apology for lying to Americans about the dangers of the disclosures made previously? Lies, I might add, designed to scare the living hell out of people and chill speech, disclosures, and journalism.

I typically try to find some humor in every situation, but this kind of flip-flopping is bullshit on a level hitherto unseen. The credibility gap between Clapper and his ilk versus Edward Snowden might as well be the Grand Canyon. I'm a bit amazed the man has been allowed to keep his job, never mind his still being allowed to make media statements.

Filed Under: edward snowden, james clapper, nsa, privacy, section 215

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2014 @ 1:16pm

    You want to hear another whopper of a statement...

    This time it's Stewart Baker. On Friday he and Daniel Ellsberg had a on-air debate that lasted almost the entire hour. The whole thing is pretty good but Stewart Baker made one kind of shocking claim that was sort of new that he really didn't get hammered on perhaps because it was toward the very end of the show.

    Point two, the question of the 2006 warrantless wiretapping, I certainly agree with Mr. Ellsberg that itís very hard to square that with the statute, with FISA. The direction was given and the legal conclusion was reached that the president had the authority to order that, notwithstanding FISA, and there have beenóthereís a long-standing view that the president does have authority to do this without the involvement of the courts. In fact, it was the majority view at least until 1978. But I think the passage of the FISA Act made that much harder to do.

    That said, the FISA court at that point had utterly disgraced itself. It had forced a bunch of what it turns out are illegal requirements in the name of civil liberties on the FBI and the intelligence community that helped in a very significant way to make it difficult to respond to the news that there were hijackers or there were terrorists in the United States before 9/11. Had it not been for the FISA courtís wrong and extralegal policies, itís quite possible that the hijackers would have been caught.

    And after 9/11, after it became clear that this was part of the problem, the FISA court insisted on those illegal policies and forced the government to take its first appeal ever to the FISA review court. That suggested that the FISA court was not actually interested in protecting Americans, but had a goal that no one else in government shared, which was to maintain this wall between intelligence and law enforcement.

    He actually blamed the FISC for 9/11. I've never seen anyone do that before.


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