We also learned that James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, flat-out lied to the Senate when he said that the N.S.A. did not “wittingly” collect any sort of data on millions of Americans. And we were reminded of how disappointing President Obama can be. These were all things the public deserved to know.
VIDEO (1:14) Here is Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in March asking Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, “Does the NSA collect any type of data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” For those who can’t view the video, Clapper’s answer is, “No, sir. … Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not wittingly.” Maybe the way Clapper rubs his forehead while responding is his “tell.” Anybody ever play poker with the guy?
Update, 5:13 p.m.: Clapper tells the National Journal, “What I said was, the NSA does not voyeuristically pore through U.S. citizens’ e-mails. I stand by that.” Except … that’s not what he said.
Then watch Feinstein embarrass herself defending Clapper. “Well, I, I, this is very hard. There is no more direct or honest person than Jim Clapper, and I think Mike and I know that. You can misunderstand the question. Th, this” — et cetera.
Phi Beta Iota: We have known for a very long time that the President and Congress are routinely lied to by the national security and national intelligence leadership — but we also know they know they are being lied to and do not care. The recent appointment of a new National Security Advisor is an excellent opportunity for the President to clean house. It needs to be done and done quickly and decisively. As for Congress, citizens need to understand that the US secret intelligence community is a pork pie for the junior senators that cannot qualify for the defense or homeland security pork pie committees. The members of the oversight committee get 5% kick-backs from the corporations that receive secret intelligence community contracts — and there is zero accountability with respect to what that money produces — all that matters is that it be spent. We agree with Daniel Ellsberg — whatever his motives and whatever his lack of qualifications, Edward Snowden has led American into a useful timely soul-searching public conversation in the public interest. Want to know what gut-wrenching really is? The absolute certainty that 70 per cent of every secret intelligence dollar and 60 per cent of every defense dollar is documented waste, fraud, and abuse — and the leadership in place likes it that way. THAT is “gut-wrenching.”