Spies & Presidents Who Lie, Lie, Lie
By Dennis Loo (7/3/13)
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, at a March 13, 2013 hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the committee in which senators are allegedly standing in as representatives for the American people to monitor, supervise and approve or disapprove of the executive branch’s intelligence activities:
SEN. WYDEN: “… does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
Director of National Intelligence JAMES CLAPPER: “No, sir.”
SEN. WYDEN: “It does not?”
DIR. CLAPPER: “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.”
After this hearing, a staffer for Sen. Wyden called the DNI to give Clapper a chance to revise his answer. According to Wyden spokesman Tom Caiazza:
Senator Wyden had a staff member contact the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on a secure phone line soon after the March hearing to address the inaccurate statement regarding bulk collection on Americans. The ODNI acknowledged that the statement was inaccurate but refused to correct the public record when given the opportunity. Senator Wyden's staff informed the ODNI that this was a serious concern.
Enter one Edward Snowden who reveals that Clapper was lying and that in fact the NSA has been intercepting and collecting all Americans’ – as well as foreigners’ – electronic communications. What does Clapper do? He says to NBC’s Andrea Mitchell on June 9th that his March 13 testimony, which is supposed to be under oath by the way, that his answer to Sen. Wyden was “the least untruthful answer” he could give. But that’s not the end of the story.
This past Monday the Washington Post revealed that Clapper had just sent a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee, along with a handwritten note to Chairman Wyden, explaining that apparently that was not “the least untruthful answer” but that he was thinking of the “NSA surveillance of e-mail traffic involving overseas targets, not the separate program in which the agency is authorized to collect records of Americans’ phone calls” when he told Sen. Wyden and the committee that “No, sir,” the NSA does not collect “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.”
Now this is a tangled mess. But bear with me and we will straighten it out.
Monday’s letter from Clapper is a lie in at least two respects. First, he claims that “the agency is authorized to collect the records of Americans’ phone calls.” That is not so. Second, when asked pointblank if he’s collecting any data at all on Americans he says he thought that Wyden was referring to email traffic involving overseas targets. He is now saying that they aren’t and weren’t collecting this data. Except that Obama and he have been saying since Snowden’s revelations that this is in fact the only thing that they ARE collecting: communications between foreigners who they suspect of terrorist sympathies or activities and Americans.
Who should be prosecuted here? Snowden and Manning who have revealed our government to be a nest of spies who lie, lie, lie, or the spies and presidents who lie, lie, lie?