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.

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.

Filed Under: james clapper, lies, mass surveillance, nsa, ron wyden, section 215


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 8 Mar 2019 @ 12:58pm

    'This is not the lie you're looking for...'

    He lied to Congress and got away with it. And he's going to spend the rest of his life pretending he didn't.

    And undermining any reason to ever trust him every single time he does it.

    People lie, it's not good, but it happens, whether from panicking or not wanting to admit the truth for whatever reason. An honest person, once caught out on their lie will own it, admit to having lied and show remorse for having done so.

    Conversely, if instead they double-down(or whatever he's up to at this point...) and insist that they didn't lie when everyone knows they did all they do is make clear that they have no remorse for what they did, and are willing to lie more in order to defend the original lie, such that you'd be a fool to believe anything they say since they've demonstrated that they consider it perfectly acceptable to lie if they believe that it would be beneficial to them to do so.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2019 @ 1:46pm

      Re: 'This is not the lie you're looking for...'

      But what he's also done is show that if you can stick to the same story, you can escape unscathed, whereas if you admit that all the evidence is true, you'll have your career destroyed.

      So now we need people willing to prove the opposite is also possible.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2019 @ 2:46pm

      Swamp Thing

      "He lied to Congress and got away with it."

      ^

      and Congressmen never lie ?

      Clapper knows the Potomac Swamp well ... and with that expertise enjoys a very comfy retirement at taxpayer expense

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        James Burkhardt (profile), 8 Mar 2019 @ 3:15pm

        Re: Swamp Thing

        Lying to congress, in testimony, is a crime akin to perjury. Michael Cohen is going to jail in part for that crime, and it was part of the articles of impeachment of both Nixon and Clinton. Members of Congress are mostly protected from that crime via the wide latitude provided by the Speech and Debate clause of the Constitution. Members of congress are also rarely testifying in front of Congress.

        The real issue is the crime is rarely prosecuted at all, unless other related crimes are being prosecuted.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2019 @ 4:15pm

          Re: Re: Swamp Thing

          Congress has no Constitutional authority to subpoena anyone nor compel testimony.

          These are special "Judicial Powers" .... which are solely granted to the U.S. Supreme Court under Article III, Section I.

          Congress simply granted itsel these judicial powers out of thin air.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2019 @ 5:55am

            Re: Re: Re: Swamp Thing

            Really?
            and there is some basis in fact for your allegations?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2019 @ 5:19pm

            Re: Re: Re: Swamp Thing

            If only a body with judicial powers had weighed in on this matter.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jurney_v._MacCracken

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2019 @ 8:48am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Swamp Thing

              SCOTUS has independently amended the Constitution hundreds of times ... in direct violation of the Constitutional text (Supreme Law of the Land).

              You can read -- please cite the Constitutional text that grants Congress subpoena power and authority to compel testimony.

              It's absurd to think Congress has legal power to drag any American into its chambers and interrogate them on any subject that Congress has some passing whim of interest in.

              Does the U.S. President also have this power ?
              Trump is the chief law enforcement officer of the nation ... commanding DOJ, FBI, etc.
              Why can''t he drag whoever he wants into the White House basement and grill them on any allegation under the sun?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ishould (profile), 9 Mar 2019 @ 8:24am

      Re: 'This is not the lie you're looking for...'

      I completely agree. I wish mainstream news networks would stop bringing him on, I never trust anything he says or give his comments on any topic any sort of weight, ever.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 8 Mar 2019 @ 1:37pm

    But we can't provide oversight!!!!!!! If we did that the terrorists will win!!!!!!!!!

    Much like 'When a Stranger Calls' we are slow to discover that the terrorists are inside the house.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2019 @ 1:58pm

      Re:

      More like the people who got caught up in the evidence collected under previous programs are now obligated to allow any and all requests from their blackmail holders.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), 8 Mar 2019 @ 3:21pm

        Re: Re:

        POTUS admits to raw dogging porn stars, short of eating aborted fetuses to stay alive what could anyone in congress have done that would even raise an eyebrow in this shitty timeline?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Thad (profile), 8 Mar 2019 @ 3:29pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The line for Republicans appears to be "ask what's so bad about white supremacy".

          Although you may only get in trouble for that if you're a congressman who nobody likes. If Trump had said what Steve King did, I suspect we'd get the usual response of "we're very troubled by this" followed by no repercussions whatsoever.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That Anonymous Coward (profile), 8 Mar 2019 @ 6:05pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Well there are very spineless people on both sides... both sides.

            One thinks the only reason they tsk tsk tsked King, is he was on his own being bold ahead of the curve.

            We deserve better but this is the party of legitimate rape who had their share of the sex offender payoff slush fund & won't say who got their sins paid off like buying indulgences from the pope.

            For some reason as long as a politician has the "right" answer to a couple dog whistle issues, they will keep getting elected & sins will be ignored.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Gary (profile), 8 Mar 2019 @ 1:47pm

    Policy

    Lying works for the adulterer-in-chief. It works so well that people line up and try to tell me the Cheeto doesn't like, and the Cheeto's lies don't matter. Or both.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 8 Mar 2019 @ 2:01pm

    Things the NSA should not be proud of

    The Clipper chip and the Clapper chap.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    michael, 8 Mar 2019 @ 2:15pm

    Wyden the weakling

    Clapper only got away with it because Wyden let him. All the grandstanding since then has just been more evidence of the toothlessness of Congressional oversight in general, and the weakness -- and willingness to let people lie to Congress -- of Wyden in particular.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2019 @ 2:18pm

      Re: Wyden the weakling

      Wyden sponsored Section 230, so he's a god around these parts.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2019 @ 5:01pm

        Re: Re: Wyden the weakling

        230 is interesting in that it ended up subverting the whole CDA, by being the only significant part not thrown out by courts; but also pointless for the same reason and because the courts would have eventually invented a similar rule.

        Wyden was one of a few people to even try to educate the public about Clapper's lies and what was really happening at the NSA. In general he came across as reasonable and willing to learn, unlike some others prone to partisan bickering, and I think that's what got him some respect here. He's certainly not a God; I'd have loved it if he simply released the documents to prove Clapper was lying, released the secret court cases allowing such interpretations... he had the ability and legal immunity to do that, and I gotta agree it's weakness that he didn't (but 99 senators were weaker).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2019 @ 7:03pm

        Re: Re:

        Hi, MyNameHere.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2019 @ 4:40pm

    We don't believe Clapper and we don’t fall for identity politics. We are a gay couple who has been together for 20 years. In 2016, we voted for the Republican ticket. It was harder to tell our friends that we were voting Republican than it was telling our family we were gay 20 years ago. We found ourselves stepping out of one closet and stepping into a darker one. Our "friends" knew how we were going to vote leading up to the election. They quickly deleted us from Facebook, sent us nasty and hateful messages, left voice mails on our phone calling us traitors, and immediately dropped us from social events. Like Thanos' snap, they disappeared within a matter of seconds. These actions just solidified and validated our choice even more. What did we do to respond? Took pictures of us eating Chik-fil-a fries and shopping at Hobby Lobby and shared it. We are voting Republican again in 2020.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2019 @ 1:25pm

    We can have a new spectrum of serverity for lies - a little white lie or a real clapper. Wonder if webster will add it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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