Snowden Has Already Exposed Potentially Illegal Activity
By: Jon Walker, Firedog Lake
Wednesday June 12, 2013 11:21 am
Snowden’s actions have already technically revealed illegal activity. This can be proven without even engaging in a debate about whether the programs revealed have been operating in a fully legal manner.
Perjury is a crime and misleading Congress while it is trying to engage in oversight of the executive branch is very serious wrongdoing. By revealing that the NSA has been secretly collecting data on millions of Americanshttp://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2013/06/11/clappers-lie-to-congress-was-prepared-in-advance/http:// Snowden proved that Director of National Intelligence General James Clapper’s [prepared answers to Congress were false ].
While Clapper currently engaged in extremely semantic hair splitting to make the case he didn’t actually lie but simply answered the question in the “least untruthful manner,” it is clear that Snowden’s actions exposed what was at least potentially a criminal act by a top government official. Regardless if a case is actually brought against Clapper, a serious potential act of wrongdoing was brought to light by this leak.
Fire James Clapper
By Fred Kaplan, Slate
Posted Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at 12:44 PM
Back at an open congressional hearing on March 12, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked Clapper, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper replied, “No sir … not wittingly.” As we all now know, he was lying.
We also now know that Clapper knew he was lying.
As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Wyden had been briefed on the top-secret-plus programs that we now all know about. That is, he knew that he was putting Clapper in a box; He knew that the true answer to his question was “Yes,” but he also knew that Clapper would have a hard time saying so without making headlines.
But the question was straightforward. It could be answered “yes” or “no,” and Clapper had to know this when he sat there in the witness chair. (Notice that, in his response to Mitchell, Clapper said he came up with the wife-beating analogy only “in retrospect.”) There are many ways that he could have finessed the question, as administration witnesses have done in such settings for decades, but Clapper chose simply to lie. “Truthful” and “untruthful” are not relative terms; a statement either is or isn’t; there’s no such thing as speaking in a “most truthful” or “least untruthful” manner.
Nor was this a spontaneous lie or a lie he regretted making. Wyden revealed in a statement today that he’d given Clapper advance notice that he would ask the question and that, after the hearing, he offered Clapper a chance to revise his answer. Clapper didn’t take the offer.
It is irrelevant whether Clapper really believes his definition of “collect” or made it up on the spot. Either way, this is a man who cannot be trusted to hold an honest discussion about these issues. If he lied about what he thinks “collect” means, he will lie about lots of things. If he really thinks the English language is this flexible, it is unwise to assume that any statement he makes means what it appears to mean.
This is crucial. We as a nation are being asked to let the National Security Agency continue doing the intrusive things it’s been doing on the premise that congressional oversight will rein in abuses. But it’s hard to have meaningful oversight when an official in charge of the program lies so blatantly in one of the rare open hearings on the subject. (Wyden, who had been briefed on the program, knew that Clapper was lying, but he couldn’t say so without violating the terms of his own security clearance.)
And so, again, if President Obama really welcomes an open debate on this subject, James Clapper has disqualified himself from participation in it. He has to go.
Clapper’s Lie to Congress was Prepared in Advance
By: Jon Walker, Firedog Lake
Tuesday June 11, 2013 9:19 am
Apparently, when Director of National Intelligence General James Clapper misled Congress it wasn’t simply the case of providing an inarticulate answer to a surprise question. Senator Ron Wyden let it be known today that he not only told Clapper in advance that he would ask the question about domestic surveillance, but even give Clapper a chance afterwards to officially revise his on the record remarks.
If Clapper is not seriously investigated for misleading Congress it should bring into question why we even bother put people under Oath before testimony to Congress. If the people in power are going to be above this law, both the law and the concept of Congressional oversight are worthless.
Apparently Clapper Makes It a Habit to Lie While Defending NSA Programs
By: Jon Walker, Firedog Lake
Wednesday June 12, 2013 6:52 am
Not only did Director of National Intelligence James Clapper purposely give misleading answers to Congress while under oath to hide the existence of NSA programs, but he also apparently lies about what these programs accomplished. The Obama administration declassified details about a terrorist plot that was supposedly stopped by PRISM, but Clapper got the basic details wrong.
NYC Bomb Plot Details Settle Little In NSA Debate
By MATT APUZZO and ADAM GOLDMAN, Associated Press
06/11/13 03:58 PM ET EDT
In the rush to defend the surveillance programs, however, government officials have changed their stories and misstated key facts of the Zazi plot. And they’ve left out one important detail: The email that disrupted the plan could easily have been intercepted without PRISM.
Zazi, an Afghan-American cab driver living in the Denver suburbs, was an al-Qaida-trained bomber. In September 2009, he sent a coded message to a Yahoo email address in Pakistan. Months earlier, British officials had linked the Yahoo address to a known al-Qaida operative.
The NSA intercepted that email, touching off a frenzied two-week investigation in New York and Colorado that led to Zazi’s arrest. He pleaded guilty and provided information that helped send two friends to prison.
When news of the phone-records program broke, officials quickly credited it with thwarting an attack.
A senior intelligence official confirmed soon afterward that Rogers was talking about Zazi, but offered no explanation.
Now, in talking points declassified by the administration, the government says that Internet eavesdropping, not archiving phone records, disrupted Zazi’s plans.
The use of PRISM to catch Zazi does little to resolve one of the key questions in the surveillance debate: whether the government needs to take such vast amounts of data, sometimes sweeping up information on American citizens, to keep the country safe.
That’s because, even before the surveillance laws of 2007 and 2008, the FBI had the authority to – and did, regularly – monitor email accounts linked to terrorists. The only difference was, before the laws changed, the government needed a warrant.
To get a warrant, the law requires that the government show that the target is a suspected member of a terrorist group or foreign government, something that had been well established at that point in the Zazi case.
In using Zazi to defend the surveillance program, government officials have further confused things by misstating key details about the plot.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said investigators “found backpacks with bombs.” Really, the bombs hadn’t been completed and the backpacks the FBI found were unrelated to the plot.
Why Clapper’s Deception Destroys Obama’s Defense of Newly Revealed NSA Programs
By: Jon Walker Tuesday June 11, 2013 9:57 am
Not only are the prepared deceptive answers given by Director of National Intelligence General James Clapper in Congressional testimony potentially serious crimes, but the entire incident completely undermines President Obama defense of the newly revealed NSA domestic surveillance programs.
When asked about revelations Obama defended both the legality and legitimacy of the programs by repeatedly claiming they were subject checks by the other branches of government. Obama’s entire case for why these programs are acceptable is based on the premise that Congress is fully briefed and has complete oversight.
If this member of the executive branch in charge of said programs is going to mislead Congress under oath about the program then Congress is not being “fully briefed.” If the executive branch is going to actively and potentially illegally deceive Congress then it is impossible for Congress to engage in real oversight. Congress can’t provide a real check on that which it has been lied to about.
This problem is not only limited to Clapper. It should be noted that several members of the administration should have known about Clapper deceptive remarks when they were made. Yet apparently the administration did nothing to encourage Clapper to amend his answers while there was still ample time, publicly correct the record or punish him for his unacceptable behavior.