One year after whistleblower Edward Snowden brought to light the National Security Agency's (NSA) out of control mass surveillance apparatus and exposed Director of National Intelligence James Clapper as having lied to Congress, Clapper is again changing his story, shifting away from the doom and gloom administration claims about how many documents Snowden took and how bad the damage was.
This assessment contrasts with the initial view in which officials, unsure of what Snowden had taken, assumed the worst — including the possibility that he had compromised the communications networks that make up the military’s command and control system. Officials now think that dire forecast may have been too extreme.After proving himself to be at least somewhat untruthful or the least untruthful he can be when testifying before Congress, it's certainly ill-advised to take anything Clapper says at face value. Still, the latest interview sounds a lot closer to the truth after a year of chicken-little style reaction from NSA and its apologists with NO concrete evidence to support the claims of "grave harm" to national security - a term the government also used to falsely portray NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake's actions.
Despite the fact that NSA - in classic fear-mongering fashion - described them as "the keys to the kingdom," the reality is NSA has no idea what documents Snowden provided to journalists. After a year, NSA's investigation (not into the officials who lied to congressional overseers and spied on innocent people in violation of half a dozen laws and the Constitution, but into the documents the whistleblower might have used to expose the wrongdoing), Clapper implied in an interview that the original number wasn't nearly the 1.7 million NSA had been telling us:
Clapper says it appears the impact may be less than once feared because “it doesn’t look like he [Snowden] took as much” as first thought.The latest number is a lot closer to the one national security reporter Glenn Greenwald has told us, and Greenwald - unlike so many senior government officials - has not been exposed as trying to sell the public a pack of lies.
Defenders of the national security state have spent the past year calling Snowden names, and leaking information in a failed, somewhat sloppy effort to discredit him, only to retract their overblown claims of damage to national security. Keep in mind these are thee same overblown claims that the government was forced to retract in the spectacularly failed case against Thomas Drake and the same claims they were unable to produce any evidence to support in the case against Army Private Chelsea Manning.
I suppose it's a positive step to see Clapper being a little more truthful now than the least untruthful he has been. But, every citizen in a democracy must take responsibility for holding government officials accountable, and especially given their history of systematic deception when it comes to smearing whistleblowers and surveillance, it cannot be reasonable or advisable for the main stream media or the public to blindly trust what government officials are telling us about national security.