Did Clapper Lie?

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Have you stopped beating your wife? It’s a yes or no question, Sir.

To the allegation that DNI Robert Clapper lied to Congress concerning NSA collections activities, here’s a letter written to the New York Times by the General Counsel of DNI:


To the Editor:

Edward Snowden, Whistle-Blower” (editorial, Jan. 2) repeats the allegation that James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, “lied” to Congress about the collection of bulk telephony metadata. As a witness to the relevant events and a participant in them, I know that allegation is not true.

Senator Ron Wyden asked about collection of information on Americans during a lengthy and wide-ranging hearing on an entirely different subject. While his staff provided the question the day before, Mr. Clapper had not seen it. As a result, as Mr. Clapper has explained, he was surprised by the question and focused his mind on the collection of the content of Americans’ communications. In that context, his answer was and is accurate.

When we pointed out Mr. Clapper’s mistake to him, he was surprised and distressed. I spoke with a staffer for Senator Wyden several days later and told him that although Mr. Clapper recognized that his testimony was inaccurate, it could not be corrected publicly because the program involved was classified.

This incident shows the difficulty of discussing classified information in an unclassified setting and the danger of inferring a person’s state of mind from extemporaneous answers given under pressure. Indeed, it would have been irrational for Mr. Clapper to lie at this hearing, since every member of the committee was already aware of the program.

General Counsel, Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Washington, Jan. 3, 2014

Which is why Clapper corrected himself when he was given the opportunity, not only in person but through the attorney representing his office. The only correct answer that Clapper could have given in that setting is ” I can neither confirm nor deny these activities in this setting.” That’s it. Of course, if Clapper gave that answer, the conspiracies would be reneiwed. No one, not even the president can discuss classified information on national television. There are forums for this, but CSPAN is not one of them.  Unlike Snowden, Clapper seems cognizant of the oath he swore. As the letter points out, the members of the committee know just as much about this program as does Clapper.

Furthermore, Senator Wyden, just before Clapper states that the NSA does not “wittingly” collect data on Americans, says that there is information that the NSA has hundreds of thousands of dossiers on Americans. This is an absolute impossibility. I have built dossiers. I have worked with NSA certified Army signals specialist. This is simply not happening.


9 thoughts on “Did Clapper Lie?

    Bill said:
    April 20, 2014 at 1:00 am

    I’m skeptical that there isn’t data on at least hundreds of thousands but I trust you. Why is it an impossibility though? That’s a big claim you’re making, from someone else I’d call BS on it but you have direct experience. You think it’s impossible? I don’t but that’s a technical disagreement. Erroll Southers may have been an isolated incident, but I’m inclined to think that this is common place – don’t like a civilian and want info on them, trump up some BS or just do it. I KNOW that happens, how often, well, not sure. Very curious why you think it’s impossible though or even highly improbable.

    magus71 responded:
    April 20, 2014 at 1:06 am

    Data and dossiers are two different things. we know the government has sufficient data to track every working American: The IRS uses it frequently.

    Bill said:
    April 20, 2014 at 2:26 am

    But aren’t dossiers just Data with a primary key attached to it (like a SSN)?

    magus71 responded:
    April 20, 2014 at 2:34 am

    Strictly speaking in the intelligence world, it could be. But really it would involve much more than that. Literally ‘pattern of life” analysis. Which could be tons of stuff.

    For all the hubbub about the NSA, I think anyone could do more damage to me or you with our SS#s than all my metadata.

    T. J. Babson said:
    April 20, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Keith Alexander lied, too.

    The Obama administration’s credibility on intelligence suffered another blow Wednesday as the chief of the National Security Agency admitted that officials put out numbers that vastly overstated the counterterrorism successes of the government’s warrantless bulk collection of all Americans’ phone records.

    Pressed by the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at an oversight hearing, Gen. Keith B. Alexander admitted that the number of terrorist plots foiled by the NSA’s huge database of every phone call made in or to America was only one or perhaps two — far smaller than the 54 originally claimed by the administration.

    Gen. Alexander and other intelligence chiefs have pleaded with lawmakers not to shut down the bulk collection of U.S. phone records despite growing unease about government overreach in the program, which was revealed in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

    “There is no evidence that [bulk] phone records collection helped to thwart dozens or even several terrorist plots,” Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and committee chairman, told Gen. Alexander of the 54 cases that administration officials — including the general himself — have cited as the fruit of the NSA’s domestic snooping.

    “These weren’t all plots and they weren’t all foiled,” he said.

    Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/oct/2/nsa-chief-figures-foiled-terror-plots-misleading/#ixzz2zR5J75jC
    Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

    T. J. Babson said:
    April 20, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Magus, Clapper admits that the NSA is collecting content without warrants.

    Listen closely to government officials and even they’ll admit they’re collecting not just metadata, but content. Connect the dots, as the intelligence community likes to say.

    To wit: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper now says the NSA looked at the content of Americans’ emails and listened to Americans’ phone calls without first obtaining warrants. In a March 28 letter to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Clapper said, “There have been queries, using U.S. person identifiers, of communications…” in the NSA’s database.

    “It is now clear…the list of ongoing intrusive surveillance practices by the NSA includes…the content of Americans’ personal communications,” Wyden said.

    If not yet clear, consider the comments of former FBI counterterrorism agent, Tim Clemente, who was on CNN last year talking about the Boston bombings. When asked how investigators were able to listen to phone calls between the suspect and his wife both before and after the bombings, Clemente said, “There’s a way to look at digital communications in the past, and I can’t go into detail of how that’s done or what’s done but I can tell you that no digital communication is secure.”

    After seeing that interview, former NSA analyst Russell Tice said he contacted some former colleagues at the agency and asked what he’d suspected all along — if the NSA was now collecting everything. “The answer came back, ‘Yes,’” he told Judy Woodruff on PBS Newshour. “They are collecting everything, contents, word for word everything of every domestic communication in this country.”


    T. J. Babson said:
    April 20, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    VXXC said:
    April 20, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Keep looking at NSA. If you haven’t realized it the Media/Government is pointing you there.

    MONEY$$ is elsewhere. IRS for instance, BLM…and our lovely Federal Data Hub at ACA which has every single transaction and bit of electronic information on you that exists.

    Don’t take my word for it. HHS is proud of their Data Hub. In their words, it’s working.


    MONEY is what our government and everyone in it is all about now.

    VXXC said:
    April 20, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    magus…don’t spend too much time on trying to convince them NSA doesn’t know they’re high.

    Because we spend many billions each year to find out exactly that they’re high, where their stash is, and what naughty sites they visit. Because we’re going to tell their parents.

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