Clapper Won't Stop Lying About His Lie, Maybe Because He's Afraid to Admit He Committed a Felony

Senate Intelligence CommitteeSenate Intelligence CommitteeYesterday seven Republican congressmen asked Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate whether Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied when he told the Senate Intelligence Committee last March that the National Security Agency does not "collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans." I can save Holder some time: Clapper lied. Not only that, but ever since the lie was revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's leaks last June, Clapper has been lying about the lie. The latest example:

Shawn Turner, a spokesman for Clapper, said the intelligence director mistakenly understood [Sen. Ron] Wyden's question to be referring to the contents of communications, instead of "metadata" such as phone numbers, call times and call durations. 

"DNI Clapper has been testifying before members of Congress for more than two decades and he enjoys a well-earned reputation as a doggedly honest and honorable public servant," Turner said. "He apologized for the confusion caused by his response and is focused on working with the intelligence committees to increase transparency while protecting critical intelligence sources and methods."

Evidently neither Clapper nor Turner realizes that Senate committees record their public hearings. Either that, or they assume everyone will be too lazy to bother checking exactly what Clapper said and in what context. Because if you do watch the video or read the transcript, you will see there was no mention of email or telephone calls during the hearing, so it is highly implausible that Clapper believed Wyden was asking him about the "the contents of communications." Furthermore, Wyden made it abundantly clear that his concerns went beyond the question of whether the NSA listens to Americans' phone calls or reads their email:

Wyden: Last summer the NSA director was at a conference, and he was asked a question about the NSA surveillance of Americans. He replied, and I quote here, "the story that we have millions or hundreds of millions of dossiers on people is completely false."

The reason I'm asking the question is, having served on the [intelligence] committee now for a dozen years, I don't really know what a dossier is in this context. So what I wanted to see is if you could give me a yes or no answer to the question: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?

Clapper: No, sir.

Wyden: It does not.

Clapper: Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.

Not only was Wyden's question unambiguous, but he told Clapper ahead of tiime that he planned to ask it. Given this context, the story Clapper is still trying to sell—that he gave a "clearly erroneous" answer because he mistakenly thought Wyden was asking only about the content of communications—does not pass the laugh test. Furthermore, it is inconsistent with another explanation Clapper has offered: that he gave the "least untruthful" answer he could to a question dealing with classified matters. As the congressmen note in their letter to Holder, Clapper could simply have declined to answer the question in public rather than tell a bald-faced lie. In any case, the "noble lie" excuse plainly contradicts the "honest mistake" excuse.

The letter to Holder—which was signed by Reps.  James Sensenbrenner Jr. (Wis.), Darrell Issa (Calif.), Trent Franks (Ariz.), Blake Farenthold (Texas), Trey Gowdy (S.C.), Raúl Labrador (Idaho) and Ted Poe (Texas)—notes that it's a federal crime, punishable by up to five years in prison, to "knowingly and willfully" make any "materially false" statement in  the course of any "investigation or review" conducted by a congressional committee. The congressmen note that Scooter Libby and Martha Stewart were both convicted under the same statute. They add:

The law is clear. [Clapper] 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 none of these things despite advance warning that the question was coming.

It seems unlikely that Holder will decide to treat Clapper like Scooter Libby or Martha Stewart. But Clapper, having told a whopper in the name of national security, should at least have the decency to stop lying about it. 

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  • John||

    The feds threw Martha Stewart in jail for lying about a phone call she received from her stock broker about a stock deal that was not illegal. They stuck Scooter Libby with a felony conviction because he remember a conversation about a soccer mom in Virginia with a reporter differently than the reporter did.

    Clapper lied to the Congress saying the NSA was not collecting information on Americans but will of course be spared any form of prosecution.

  • some guy||

    You'd think that if Congress was going to care about any law-breaking it would be the law-breaking that directly disrepects them. But no. Apparently a lie told to enhance the power of government is noble enough to overcome their respect for their own authority.

  • John||

    The reason is that Congress thinks they might some day serve in the executive branch. And once we start throwing people in jail, they might be next.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    That or Clapper shared some of the intelligence about them that the NSA stumbled across and expressed sorrow at the thought that it may become public.

  • John||

    I can tell you what is happening. The law is so complex you can prosecute anyone for anything. So, think about that from the perspective of a Republican.

    It sounds like a great idea to go after all of the various Obama hoodlums. But, when you do that the Democrats are going to look for revenge against the next Republican administration.

    In a just world, that shouldn't be a threat since the Republicans should be honest and know the Democrats won't have any way to prosecute them. But in our unjust hyper legal world, being innocent doesn't mean shit. Everyone is guilty of something or if they are not guilty close enough to guilty that they don't want to put their fate i the hands of a jury.

    So given that, the rational course is to establish the precedent that no one ever gets prosecuted for anything. And that is exactly what is happening. And once one side breaks the truce, it will be a short slide into kangaroo courts and criminalizing political differences.

    It is one hell of a mess.

  • tarran||

    In a just world, that shouldn't be a threat since the Republicans should be honest and know the Democrats won't have any way to prosecute them.

    It's worse than that. The guys getting into government are frequently going in for the graft. So it's not that they might be unjustly prosecuted that's staying their hand. I expect for many if not most, their closets are full of actual bona fide skeletons, and not the ones whose photographs grace the daily mail pages that sarcasmic links to but nasty stinky decaying ones.

  • John||

    I am sure there is some of that. But the reality is that there is plenty of graft to be made legally. It is not illegal to work on staff in Congress writing laws and then cash in for a six or seven figure salary working for the industries that are subjected to those laws. It is not illegal for a Congressman to make it clear to DOD that if they like this weapon system and want it funded there better be some contracts going to a designated crony.

    Being a crook in Washington doesn't make you a criminal. It just means you are influential.

  • hutch1200||

    Obama never would have made to the Illinois State House of Reps, if he hadn't been such a douchebag, as to have his opponents SEALED divorce records made public. Classy.

  • ||

    Exactly, and this is why there will no longer be impeachments, even over egregious shit like Fast and Furious or the IRS scandal. Because from the politicians' viewpoint, no one wins, but they all lose. They learned that from the Clinton impeachment. So...no more impeachments.

  • some guy||

    It's professional courtesy, eh? Kind of like Feudal lords setting the "no-executions for losers" rule.

  • Michael Price||

    Which only applied to certain types of conflicts. If there was a disagreement on who was King, it was always fatal.

  • hutch1200||

    He DID NOT lie! He just ah, simply, uhm, "the intelligence director mistakenly understood" the question.
    Maybe I'm a backwards redneck like Phil Robertson, but isn't the term "MIS-UNDERSTOOD"? The politi-speak these clowns engage in just confirms how far removed from the us peons these clowns really are. What universe is "mistakenly understood" used in? Is this intern treating it like a term paper where you must use X number of words?
    SOoo, he understood it, but was just "mistaken" about understanding it. Gotcha. Why, it's almost as if they aren't even trying to hide their contempt for us anymore!

  • The Last American Hero||

    C'mon, it's not like the servants of Barack I have to play by the same rules as the peasants.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Peter King (douchebag-NY) is calling for Rand Paul to resign from the Senate for having the temerity to acknowledge Clapper's lies.

  • wareagle||

    Peter King (R-IRA)

    ftfy

  • John||

    Has King gone insane or something? He has always been annoying. But he seems to have gone to a different level of douchbaggery in the last year.

  • some guy||

    When you crave the spotlight but have nothing of substance to offer all you can do is try to out-crazy everyone else.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    The neo-con warmongers are definitely getting scared if they Peter King is their path back to power.

  • John||

    Even if there was such a thing, which there isn't, King was never one of them.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Someone is pushing his presidential delusions.

  • John||

    I think it is King.

  • tarran||

    He's announced he's running for prez in 2016 apparently.

    My guess is he's trying to position himself as the NSA's best friend to avoid really damning SIGINT the brits collected about his activities in the 80's and 90's being leaked to the press.

    Of course, he hasn't a snowball's chance in hell. But it will be entertaining.

  • ||

    A crazy retarded run from that scumbag would be entertaining as hell. And to think of how easy it would be for the press to embarrass the shit out of him too...if they were so inclined, which is questionable. After all, he's also a supporter of the security state, just like them.

  • tarran||

    If I were Rand Paul, I would have so much fun with him:

    "I defer to Rep King since he is the best expert on providing material support to terrorists."

    And if King offers the defense that he isn't that bad, because if he were, Obama wouldn't have considered him to be U.S. ambassador to Ireland,

    "I am convinced by your argument; there is no way the Obama administration would commit a tone deaf gaffe - particularly when it comes to foreign policy."

  • ||

    The only thing that would make the Obamatards go apeshit more than criticizing Obama would be criticizing him sarcastically. That would cause their heads to explode with rage. It would be great to see, but the media would go so crazy that they would do anything to discredit Paul, even destroying themselves in the process. Don't you know sarcasm and snark are reserved for Jon Stewart making fun of TEAM RED only?

  • John||

    They cannot take ridicule. It is the only way to deal with them. You can't rationally argue with them. They are too far gone for that and they will just resort to lying and ad homonym. But they have no answer to laughing at them.

  • Gray Ghost||

    Speaking of tone-deaf gaffes, what is the commentariat's opinion on the arrest and strip-search of that Indian deputy consul in NYC the other week over lying about how much she was paying her maid? Entirely right? Stupid but right?

    The US Attorney for SDNY had a press conference saying that they arrest everyone on charges such as these, and when they do, they basically strip search everyone going into a holding cell. My questions on that are these: on high-profile Wall Street financial cases, is that also true? I thought the rule of thumb was that they made arrangements to surrender at the station/precinct/what have you, the attorney immediately bonds them out, and they later show up for the preliminary hearing? Why the difference in this case, and why would the Obama Administration choose to do it to a member of a consular legation from a nuclear-armed state and a significant trading partner?

    It just doesn't make sense to me.

    A +1 for eagerly awaiting Paul or Cruz's demonstration of just what a terrorist-sympathizing sack of shit King is.

  • John||

    The NYPD is so out of control, I bet they do do that for high profile wall street cases.

    As far as the idiocy of getting into a pissing match with India over diplomatic immunity on such a trivial case, I don't blame Obama. The fact is that DOJ and US attorneys are completely out of control. That US Attorney could give a fuck less about the country or its relations with India. And no one in the State Department would be able to talk any sense into him. And moreover, I bet you that no one in Washington or the State Department had any idea what he was up to.

    This whole thing is the wages of having a completely out of control Department of Justice and however many US Attorneys who are answerable to know one and feel no loyalty to anything beyond their own power and ego.

  • Gray Ghost||

    I don't doubt what you say. I'm in an argument with a bunch of proggies about the whole mess. Basically, they're butt-hurt that the consul was exploiting her maid and trafficking her by paying her double what she would've maid in India, instead of the 13 bucks an hour or whatever crazy wage NYC mandates. The argument that the maid would never have been brought over for the job if they had to pay those wages sailed right over their fucking heads.

    My point was, even if all that's true, and State felt like making an example out of this consulate to get all of the others to shape up, you just don't do it this way. Declare her persona non grata, hold a press conference saying why you're doing it and that you plan on doing it to everyone else treating their staff like shit the Emirates and kick her butt out.

    It just mystifies me that someone who serves at the pleasure of the President---the US. Attorney---would do something so utterly hamfisted. And that, if they've no compunction doing that to someone important, what does that say about what the Feds feel they can do to you and me?

  • John||

    Yes Ghost, you deal with it by getting state to pull her VISA and kick her out.

    But that is now how US Attorneys think. Their answer to every problem is to throw someone in prison and terrorize them while doing it. This is how they operate. And it is not that they would treat you or I any worse. They are so unaccountable and out of control, they treat everyone the same.

    If I were elected President, the first thing I would do after walking into the Oval Office after the inaugural parade would be to ask for every single US attorney's resignation. I would fire every single one of them and replace them with criminal defense attorneys.

  • Andrew S.||

    I fear somewhat that King would get the kid glove treatment from the media if it was him against the likes of Paul and Cruz.

  • some guy||

    Anyone is going to get the kid glove treatment from the media against the likes of Paul and Cruz. Christie will get the kid glove treatment from the media against Paul or Cruz.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    SO long as reality stays as it is - King has almost zero chance and Paul, someone the current media hates, has at least a 1% chance, they'll use King against Paul.

    If however we find unicorns to be real, and closer to 2016 the media finds King might win a nomination - all of that will go away and the media will use other unlikely winners to hurt King.

    & repeat as necessary.

    Because in the end - anyone opposing the obvious, common sense regulations we need is evil.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Hopefully someone throws that question at him in a debate.

  • John C. Randolph||

    He can be the Rudy Giuliani of the 2016 election, only dumber. WAAAY dumber.

    -jcr

  • GILMORE||

    ""
    VG Zaytsev|12.20.13 @ 12:28PM|#

    Peter King (douchebag-NY) is calling for Rand Paul to resign"

    Geez, I didn't realize you could do that.

    Can Rand Paul call on Peter King to kiss his ass and go fuck himself?

    Is the idea that you stamp your foot and demand people do what you say even though you have no power or authority or influence and are just being a drama queen?

  • John C. Randolph||

    Can Rand Paul call on Peter King to kiss his ass and go fuck himself?

    Dr. Paul has far too much class for that, so it falls to the rest of us to step up and tell King where to go, how to get there, and why he should do so.

    -jcr

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Peter King (douchebag-NY) is calling for Rand Paul to resign from the Senate for having the temerity to acknowledge Clapper's lies.

    I'm calling for Peter King to retire to his inner sanctum with a Luger and one round (brandy optional) and atone for his years of deceit and treachery.

  • Kid Xenocles||

    He could at least resign for his ardent support of Hiberno-terror

  • Swiss Servator, Pikes Forward!||

    Hiberno-terror

    STOLEN.

  • Kid Xenocles||

    I stole it from NR, who called it Hiberno-fascism a decade ago in order to keep it in-line with their term Islamo-fascism.

  • Killaz||

    ^this. Or a razor and an instruction manual. 'Down the road, not across the street.'

  • some guy||

    (brandy optional)

    Wouldn't it be whiskey given his heritage?

  • Killaz||

    Yeah, but he deserves something rancid like Guinness. Not the good stuff that I have only heard rumors about, if it exist at all, but that drier than the Sahara mud that they ship over here.

  • ||

    Most transparent administration ever.....and that is no shit.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Shawn Turner, a spokesman for Clapper, said the intelligence director mistakenly understood [Sen. Ron] Wyden's question to be referring to the contents of communications, instead of "metadata" such as phone numbers, call times and call durations."

    The jury should definitely take that into consideration.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I can see a new Emily Ekins poll brewing:

    73% of convicted perjurers say they didn't understand the question.

  • Kid Xenocles||

    If only there were a way for Congress to prosecute officials themselves...

  • Ken Shultz||

    I've got a few things to say about that:

    1) The GOP is still traumatized by the Kenneth Start experience.

    2) Also, some of the people in Congress may be concerned about their own complicity in this, too.

    Congressional leadership may have known more about this than anyone has admitted to yet.

    3) I don't understand the following completely, but I believe the Office of Independent Council was folded into the Justice Department--in 1999.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.....nt_Counsel

    I think Congress can ask Holder to appoint someone to investigate, but they can't appoint an independent council unless they change the law, the Senate votes on it, too, and Obama signs it.

    And why would he do that?

  • Kid Xenocles||

    Forget about an independent counsel. They already have the goods in the public record to pass a bill of impeachment and kick it over to the Senate. That would force the Senate Dems to either eat one of their own or twist around defending the obvious lies about a pretty important topic.

  • GILMORE||

    To further Ken's point = in politics, its better to keep a guy around as a whipping boy than actually go after him and victimize him for doing what Congress likely authorized him to do, which only became unpopular when people found out about it.

  • Kid Xenocles||

    Yes of course, this is the consequence of a system in which everyone is filthy as hell.

  • GILMORE||

    In D.C. nobody every calls anyone else a "liar" to their face. Once you start, where do you stop? So when liars lie, they apologize for the misunderstanding when pressed on it. This is how Liars do their jobs.

  • andarm16||

    Don't worry, the worst thing that will happen to him is he will be forced to resign. (Resignation to be accompanied by much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the serious people about how he was "forced" out by the bitter teabaggers, and maybe even an MSNBC special showing how the entire NSA thing is all a big misunderstanding (also featuring accusations that Snowden is a pedophile, or a drug user).)

  • Number 7||

    And then he'll get a 7 figure book deal.

  • Homple||

    Clapper will resign over his statements right after Scarlett Johansson comes to my house and gives me a tantra massage.

  • Killaz||

    Scarlett Johansson comes to my house and gives me a tantra massage.

    Oh, great, now I'm here just after returning from my afternoon break with a horny thought in my head. If I go back to rub one out people will assume I've got the diarrhea or I'm rubbing one out.

  • andarm16||

    Well, they need a plan B for if plan A fails. (Plan A being to distract the public with the usual distractions, such as the war on women/gays/minorities or personal interest stories on how Obama is spending our money to celebrate the holidays)

  • some guy||

    If it comes to it, maybe Clapper will use the following defense: You know the type of man I am the job I have. You should have known I wasn't telling the truth. It isn't a lie if your audience knows it isn't true. It's just theatre.

  • Gray Ghost||

    If Clapper gets what Sandy Berger got, a 50K fine, and two years probation, for lying about taking original SCI-classified documents and destroying them, I'll be stunned.

    Indict Lois Lerner while we're at it.

  • John||

    I think Lerner might get indicted. She is a low level professional hack, not a political. She is just not part of the club. She is one of those committed creatures who inhabits the bowels of the executive doing the political dirty work for the prog cause. She is as they say, expendable.

    While I am sure Lerner knows where the bodies are buried, she probably doesn't have any proof other than her word. As things go on and the IRS scandal lingers, I expect Lerner will be told to cut a deal and do some federal time and take the fall to make the whole thing go away.

    She will not want to do that. But she won't have any choice since she is guilty of all kinds of misconduct and I would imagine the people above her took steps to ensure she had no way to prove they were involved. Sucks to be Lois. But you never know when you are an egg that needs to be broken. She has been a good soldier and I am sure will find some way to come to terms with the sacrifice expected of her. And if she doesn't, too bad. What is she going to do about it?

  • Michael S. Langston||

    Agreed - that's the problem with following any of the power hungry. Which is - they may well like you, but only as far as they can use you as the end goal is power, not people.

    So as soon as using you becomes more problematic than burning you, you will get burned.

    All cults are like this.

  • ||

    It seems unlikely that Holder will decide to treat Clapper like Scooter Libby or Martha Stewart

    Congress has a police force and they can hold a trial.

    Next time Clapper shows up arrest him, jail him in some office then hold a trial.

  • Quixote||

    Lie? Ha! Our government's capacity to defend General Clapper and other distinguished members of the intelligence community against unfair, and indeed dangerous, "Internet" criticism, can be gauged from our success in using public resources to defend the reputations of members of the academic community who have been wrongly criticized and mocked with criminally deadpan parody on Twitter, in emails ricocheting around humanities departments, and even on Internet websites posted under their own names. In New York, prosecutors have successfully fought against at least one blogger who sent out "Gmail confessions" in a well-connected NYU department chairman's "name." For documentation of the case, see:

    http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

    Free speech? Ha-ha-ha! It is perfectly appropriate for the NSA to watch over "an internationally recognized center for research in atomic and nuclear physics." The terrible difficulties created for research centers by the new "online" reality is exposed in the book entitled "Scandals and Scoundrels," by Ron Robin (another NYU official), where the author amply explicates the danger posed for social and intellectual order by ongoing acts of inappropriate Internet criticism that have distracted all of us from the important work that needs to be done. Clearly the government must watch over these scoundrels and stop them before they do any more harm to public order and national security.

  • HenryC||

    He would have been committing a felony either way. Either by revealing classified secrets or committing perjury.

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