“Everyone lies.” That was Dr. Gregory House’s supreme law.
The hidden bureaucrat who is in charge of the various intelligence operations of the United States government was asked by Senator Ron Wyden in March if the agencies spied on Americans. He said categorically they did not.
Then came Edward Snowden’s revelations, backed up by stolen documents, that the NSA spies on everybody, all the time. It is spying on Americans 24×7. It has been for a decade. It has been comprehensive. It has been collecting 100% of our emails, phone calls, and all digital transactions. It is comprehensive.
Snowden made it clear that Clapper lied. He provided documentation.
Now Clapper tells Congress that he made a mistake. Yes, he did. He lied to Congress on the assumption that nobody like Snowden would expose him as the comprehensive liar that he is.
For those of us who remember Watergate, the “I made a mistake” defense will be recognizable. This was Richard Nixon’s defense. He made mistakes, he said. He was not a crook, he said. Yes, he did make mistakes. And yes, he was a crook. He was a lying, spying, devious crook. He resigned in disgrace. He was a ruined man after Watergate. He spent the rest of his life writing best-selling books.
Clapper was apparently not under oath in March. He should have been. Yet Congress took him at his word. (wink, wink)
Had he been under oath, he should now be headed for a perjury trial. But he will not face this inconvenience. He will keep his job for a bit longer, and Obama will see if this blows over. If it does not blow over, Mr. Clapper will find that he has personal reasons to resign. He wants to spend more time with his family, after 32 years of working for the government.
It is clear what was going on in March. Wyden asked him if the spying agencies actually did any spying on Americans. He said they did not. Congress said nothing, and went “wink wink.” Congress is a giant “wink wink” operation. They knew he was lying. He knew he was lying. But the folks back home paid no attention to any of it. No problem.
Then Edward Snowden showed up, and “wink wink” looks really stupid in retrospect. Congress thinks it will get away with the “wink wink” approach. “So, you lied Mr Clapper. You were very bad to lie. Mr. Clapper.” (wink, wink) “You misled us, Mr. Clapper.” (wink, wink) “But we know you will never do this again, sir.” (wink, wink) “Because if you do this again, you will be in big trouble.” (wink, wink)
In a June 21 letter to Senator Feinstein, Clapper wrote:
I have thought long and hard to re-create what went through my mind at the time. In reference to Senator Wyden’s reference to “dossiers” and faced with the challenge of trying to give an unclassified answer about our intelligence collection activities, many of which are classified, I simply didn’t think of Section 215 of the Patriot Act.
If Clapper proves to be a public relations problem, his career will end. His pension will not.
It is all about PR. As for the digital snooping, it will continue.