February 1, 2014
Many of us are still quite disappointed that James Clapper has kept his job as Director of National Intelligence after flat out lying to Congress over whether or not the NSA spied on Americans. There have been increasing calls from within Congress to have Clapper investigated and possibly prosecuted for the felony of lying to Congress, but there appears to be no movement there at all. Not only does the Obama administration seem to want to protect one of their own, but it’s also made it clear that something like that would make it look like Ed Snowden “won” and they can’t allow that sort of thing.
CNN’s Jake Tapper finally got President Obama to “address” the issue in an interview, and the best that Obama could muster was that Clapper “should have been more careful” in how he lied to Congress:
“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.”
I’m wondering if anyone else charged with a felony for lying to Congress will now be able to use that excuse: yes, yes, they should have been more careful in how they lied to Congress.
As for the “rock and a hard place” claim, that’s also simply untrue. Clapper knew full well the question was coming and also knew full well that he could easily respond by saying a variety of things, such as “I can only fully answer that question in a closed hearing.” Clapper knows he can do this because he’s done it many times before. In fact, he did it just this week when asked another question by Senator Wyden about the NSA’s activities. He specifically said that he was uncomfortable discussing such details in an open hearing but would be happy to discuss them during a closed session. And, in fact, Clapper had done similar things in previous sessions, as is clear from the correspondences between him and Wyden that pre-dated the hearing where he lied.
For example, take a look at a letter Clapper sent in 2011 to Senator Ron Wyden, in which he states: “the questions you pose on geolocational information are difficult to answer in an unclassified letter.” He was able to do that in 2011 and no parade of horribles followed. It did not reveal any “sources and methods” of classified intelligence. He easily could have done the same thing in 2013 when asked.
There was no rock. There was no hard place. Clapper didn’t need to “be more careful.” He lied. Which is a felony. And the President is excusing it because he doesn’t want Snowden to “win.”
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