President Obama, whose administration promised a new era of transparency, has now officially come out in regards to the lies told to congress by James Clapper, providing excuses:
President Obama said Friday that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper “should have been more careful” when he testified to a Senate panel last year that the National Security Agency did not collect data on millions of Americans.
“I think that Jim Clapper himself would acknowledge, and has acknowledged, that he should have been more careful about how he responded,” Obama told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “His concern was that he had a classified program that he couldn't talk about and he was in an open hearing in which he was asked, he was prompted to disclose a program, and so he felt that he was caught between a rock and a hard place.
...During a open hearing in March, Clapper said “no” when Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, asked if the NSA collected “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.”
So Clapper's crime is excused away as 'being between a rock and a hard place', but Snowden who was not subject to whistleblower protection, and the only outlets he could 'legally' take the information to were deeply involved in allowing the now known criminality to continue.... must be tried because 'he broke the law'. This is the kind of disconnect that creates a mistrust in an administration I once admired. Especially because Clapper's excuses keep changing:
"He's kind of stuck because he's got to say we collect on a very broad range of individuals but we actually only process and read a tiny portion of them," Lewis, former Foreign Service officer, said. "He might want to issue a clarifying statement. A lot of people are either intentionally or otherwise don't understand the difference between collect and read."Shifting rationalizations. First it was because he was parsing 'collect' and 'read' and then when that did not pass the sniff test, he went to the 'classified' excuse.
Intelligence director Clapper explained it this way Saturday in an interview with NBC's Andrea Mitchell:
"To me, collection of a U.S. person's data would mean taking the books off the shelf, opening it up and reading it," Clapper told Mitchell.
Clapper, however, could simply have refused to answer.
"The fear is by even refusing to answer the question, you're confirming it," Lewis said. "It put Clapper in a tough spot."This does not pass the sniff test either, as this happens all the time. Example... last week:
He also questioned Clapper on whether the NSA had conducted “warrantless searches” for “specific” Americans’ identifying information in its vast databases of foreigners’ internet content, an authority first reported by the Guardian.While Obama may be willing to excuse Clapper, at least the House Judicial Committee is calling for some action::
“Can you tell us today whether any such searches have ever been conducted?” Wyden asked.
“Senator Wyden, I think, at a threat hearing, this would ... I would prefer not to discuss this and have this as a separate subject. There are very complex legal issues here, I just don’t think this is the appropriate time or place,” Clapper said.
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