PATRIOT ACT author James Sensenbrenner has made multiple statements in the past calling for James Clapper to prosecuted for his 'least untruthful' testimony to Congress:
"Lying to Congress is a federal offense, and Clapper ought to be fired and prosecuted for it," the Wisconsin Republican said in an interview with The Hill.
He said the Justice Department should prosecute Clapper for giving false testimony during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in March.
During that hearing, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked Clapper whether the National Security Agency (NSA) collects data on millions of Americans. Clapper insisted that the NSA does not — or at least does "not wittingly" — collect information on Americans in bulk.
After documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA collects records on virtually all U.S. phone calls, Clapper apologized for the misleading comment.
The intelligence director said he tried to give the "least untruthful" answer he could without revealing classified information.
Now, Sensenbrenner and other House Judiciary Members are formally requesting an investigation into Clappers testimony in a letter to Attorney General Holder.
PDF Available Here.
Dear Mr. Attorney General Holder,
Congressional oversight depends on truthful testimony - witnesses cannot be allowed to lie to Congress. Accordingly, we request you investigate Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's "erroneous' statements to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence earlier this year.
At a March 12, 2013 Committee hearing, Senator Ron Wyden asked, "Does the N.S.A. collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?" Director Clapper answered, "No, Sir." Wyden Pressed, "It does not?" Clapper replied, "There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly."
Senator Wyden had warned Director Clapper prior to the hearing that he would ask the question. Following the hearing, Wyden privately offered Clapper an opportunity to correct the record. Clapper declined. Four months later, in June 2013 after the Snowden leaks publicly exposed Clappers testimony as false, Clapper finally retracted his remarks. Clapper wrote, "My response was clearly erroneous - for which I apologize."
Senator Dianne Feinstein, who as chair of the Intelligence Committee knew Clapper's testimony was false, told the New Yorker she "was startled by the answer." Senator Wyden said, "the answer was obviously misleading, false."
18 U.S.C 1001 makes it a crime to "knowingly and willfully" make any "materially false" statement in the course of any "investigation or review, conducted pursuant to the authority of any committee." One of the hallmarks of American democracy is that no one is above the law. In 1990, National Security Advisor John Poindexter was charged and convicted under 18 U.S.C 1001 for lying to Congress about the Iran Contra affair. In 2011, the D.C. Circuit upheld the conviction of David Safavian for false statements to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee while he was Chief of Staff of the General Services Administration administrator. Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff Scooter Libby was convicted under 18 U.S.C. 1001. Martha Stewart was jailed under the same statute.
Director Clapper has served his country with distinction, and we have no doubt he believed he was acting in its best interest. Nevertheless, the law is clear. He was asked a question and he was obligated to answer truthfully. He could have declined to answer. He could have offered to answer in a classified setting. He could have corrected himself immediately following the hearing. He did non of these things despite advance warning that the question was coming.
The country's interests are best served when its leaders deal truthfully with its citizens. The mutual sense of good faith it foster permits compromise and concessions in those cases that warrant it. Director Clapper's willful lie under oath fuels the unhealthy cynicism and distrust that citizens feel towards their government and undermines Congress's ability to perform its Constitutional function.
There are differences of opinion about the propriety of the NSA's data collection programs. There can be no disagreement, however, on the basic premise that congressional witnesses must answer truthfully.
This is a matter of the highest priority and therefore, we respectfully request a response by January 10, 2014.
Rep F. James Sensenbrenner Jr
Rep Darrell Issa
Rep Trent Franks
Rep Ted Poe
Rep Trey Gowdy
Rep Raul Labrador
Rep Blake Farenthold