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Discussion: (32 comments)

  1. I’m sorry but this is just pathetic. The head of a security agency couldn’t answer a delicate question in an appropriate way so you blame the questioner? That’s just weak. If Clapper can’t fend off questions in an honest yet strict way then he shouldn’t be in power.

    In stunned that AEI is defending police state tactics.

    1. Seattle Sam

      Back in the 1940s if Major General Leslie Groves had been asked by a congressman who knew all about the Manhattan Project whether anyone was developing an atomic bomb, what do you think he should have said? And what should be done with the congressman whose motive was clearly to expose the project to our enemies?

      1. He could have cut the line of questioning short with phrases like, “I can neither confirm nor deny,” “I am not at liberty to discuss the program(s) in question,” etc. I would not expect classified information to be made public, but it could have been handled better.

        1. LTCGross

          You know it doesn’t work that way. Any answer other than no would have been taken as yes.

    2. GoneWithTheWind

      I have to agree with AEI on this. For some reason Wyden (the senator for Oregon who lives in New York so is really New Yorks third senator) choose to create a media magnet that would end up exposing state secrets. What is Wyden’s reason? Was he paid off by the enemies of our country or did he commit treason for free?

      1. What is Wyden’s reason? Was he paid off by the enemies of our country or did he commit treason for free?

        No. He wants the Constitution to be followed, not ignored. There is no need to spy on Americans without a warrant or any type of judicial review. Note that the NSA is perfectly within its rights to spy on me because I am a foreigner and do not enjoy the protection that you are supposed to have. But I see no justification for your e-mails being read because the NSA is looking for terrorists.

        1. GoneWithTheWind

          That is a simplistic conclusion. Wyden knows that answer all he had to do was call a press conference and blow the whistle. But he has no balls and so he wouldn’t stand up for the constitution as you suggest was his motive.

          I personally don’t want the government to collect any data. Nothing, zip, nada. I would like to see them eliminate most of the federal departments and fire about 90% of the federal workforce. Almost everything these various departments do is unconstitutional. Where is your outrage that we unconstitutionally spend $1.2 trillion on the many federal welfare programs which is putting us in debt and will lead to an economic crash. Did Wyden in his constitutional zeal ever try to balance our budget and eliminate the many wasteful federal programs?

          But here is the problem with your belief that the NSA cannot constitutionally collect the data. It is an accepted fact that the constitution is not a mutual suicide pact and that the administration can in national emergencies and time of war do things we could all agree are unconstitutional if it is necessary to protect our national security. So congress isn’t going to stop it. They may do something, make big headlines, but in the end the NSA or some other alphabet agency will secretly do what the administration thinks they need to do to protect us and the appropriate congressional committees will be briefed and will approve it all.

          1. But here is the problem with your belief that the NSA cannot constitutionally collect the data. It is an accepted fact that the constitution is not a mutual suicide pact and that the administration can in national emergencies and time of war do things we could all agree are unconstitutional if it is necessary to protect our national security.

            What WAR would you be talking about? I have not seen Congress DECLARE WAR, have you? Which country is the enemy and which of its agents need to be watched? If there is a war shouldn’t you be using scarce resources to destroy the enemy rather than spy on your own citizens?

  2. Sorry Mark, but Congress does NOT have “a sworn responsibility to protect our nation’s secrets”.

    The oath of office they take states very clearly that they are to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;”

    Our Constitution has been steadily eroded since the days of Teddy Roosevelt and between Bush and now Obama, has largely been hollowed out, all in the name of trying to “protect” us from third world zealots.

    No thank you. I will take the risk of being “attacked” rather than give up my constitutional rights in the mistaken believe that “our government” can or will protect us.

    BR,
    Dr. PDG

    1. mike carroll

      The Constitution has been steadily eroded since its inception. That is the nature of government, it grows and grows and grows. Perhaps an occasional revolution will always be required. That is the wisdom of the second admendment.

      1. Revolution implies violence and I do not think that is wise or even necessary. What the US needs is a better education among the electorate and a political system that is not fixed in favour of the mainstream parties.

    2. GoneWithTheWind

      Oh good! Then congress will end federal welfare which is unconstitutional and end subsidies for energy, farms, alternative energy etc.

      But you miss the point. It may be true that congress does not swear to protect secrets in their oath of office but they do before they can obtain a security clearance. I am in favor of bringing Wyden up on charges for this.

      1. Bernard King

        Who the hell do you think you are? The people’s representatives and senators don’t take orders from bureaucrats like James Clapper, and bureaucrats like James Clapper aren’t given a magic pass that allows them to lie under oath – even when asked about a classified program. For heavens sake, Martha Stewart spent a year in jail for lying and she wasnt even under oath! People like you are what is wrong with our country, and I look forward to the day when we will be rid of you.

  3. Hmmm… When asked a question to which the answer might be classified, Clapper lies to Congress instead of suggesting that the question be taken in closed session.

    Additionally, Clapper was given the question a day prior and could have responded asked to respond in closed session and Clapper chose not to respond the day prior and instead waited until in open session of the hearings knowing full well that question was going to be asked.

    This suggests to me that Clapper doesn’t have sufficient common sense, integrity, or ethics to be the director of intelligence.

    Therefore, I respectfully disagree with Marc Theissen. Clapper knew a day before the question was going to be asked and did nothing. He simply lied when he could have deferred.

  4. jack morpher

    i support the disclosures b/c i oppose the *obama* administration of this surveillance, and, after the fact, i support anything that leads to this disclosure, of *obama* surveillance, and *obama* downfall

    that said, i support mr wyden’s entrapment of mr clapper, both of whom knew that mr clapper would likely or need to lie ‘for higher purpose’

    mr wyden is himself bound by oath, presumably, to likewise not disclose that HE also knew

    so this is ballet of leaking without leaking

    mr wyden, who presumably opposes this surveillance, has no obvious legal recourse to publicly oppose what he opposes, namely executive overreach, and perhaps constitutional violation, well maybe perhaps new legislation, but the congress’ JOB! is executive oversight, as part of checks and balances, by hearings and impossible questions

    so all of this, mouse-trapping or perjury-trapping of mr clapper by mr wyden, brings into public debate what mr snowden said he was doing, bringing into public debate at great personal cost, how we wish to govern ourselves, ie democracy, and god bless, and extradition treaties defend and protect, mr snowden

    and there is no right answer, when to lie for higher good, this is why we have elections and why we have this debate and why the debate (and taking of sides) falls out quite differently from Dem v Pub, which is fascinating by itself, ‘following orders’ was long ago discredited as a defense

    as for a nearby post, general groves and manhattan project, as also posted nearby, if spook central does not have weasel words, then it is not able to do its job;

    a groves could say we never talk about weapons in development and YOU KNOW THAT SIR, why are you asking; — but this surveillance is indefensible (at least so far) and part of its incompetence is that it was flat footed when challenged

    part of the incompetence is that it could not even keep its own secrets – this is DECADES after Falcon and Snowman (snowden sound so close to snowman as to have been divinely ordained)and all the rest of our porous ‘secrets’

    for those NSA continuing incomptencies, the entire senior spookdom should be retired and thus mr wyden was correct in toppling this whole unstable monstrosity, by a mere poke

    finally, the closest thing we have to a defense, is Zazi? nyc subway bomber thwarted, which seems to have been police work not spook work

    i fear that when the disclosures continue, we will be seen to HAVE KNOWN of the boston bombers, the russians gave them to us,. and did nothing THAT is why some rally round the spooks, we knew and let them run to protect our spyware – again the coverup is always worse than the crime

  5. Wrong. All Clapper had to do is state that he couldn’t answer that question in open session and would be happy to give a full response in private session. This happens all the time with sensitive info and the witness often gives this response. You don’t lie about it under any circumstance.

    1. Agreed. Perjury is perjury. He could have easily responded somehow similarly, or say yes there is some data collected about Americans — maybe people will have wild speculations about 1984 style what that data is — but I can’t go into details about such things in a public session. If people surmised anything from that it would be 100% conjecture. They wouldn’t know anything other than that the NSA has some data on many Americans – SHOCKER! (which would have in NO way hampered terrorism efforts), and everything else is assumptions we’re free to make. But that the NSA does things to Americans is something we deserve to know. As others have noted, he was given time before to prepare an answer. And, he was given time afterwards to update or amend it.
      Clapper is not the first person to be asked a question about confidential information. He handled it miserably, and (even Theissen seems to agree here), Clapper made the choice to commit perjury. He should be prosecuted for it.

  6. John Greene

    This is all pure BS. What NSA is doing is UNCONSTITUTIONAL… and violates the rights of every private citizen. The fact that a lawyer (judge is a lawyer in black robes) sanctioned this blatant violation of MY RIGHTS as an American Citizen simply does not mitigate the FACT that these jackasses are tearing up our constitution and the Bill of Rights.

    Our Government refuses to address the Muslim Terrorists amongst us and the source of 99% of terrorism in the world is outrageous. Any American Citizen who is paying attention and understands our Constitution, the Bill of Rights and this Nation’s history should be outraged.

    By the way, get those stinking IRS people under Oath and indict them for their CRIMINAL ACTS. I’m sick of this garbage.

  7. The author conveniently ignores the fact that Wyden gave Clapper 24 hours prior notice that he planned to ask the question so as to avoid ambushing Clapper with it.

    “When NSA Director Alexander failed to clarify previous public statements about domestic surveillance, it was necessary to put the question to the Director of National Intelligence. So that he would be prepared to answer, I sent the question to Director Clapper’s office a day in advance. After the hearing was over my staff and I gave his office a chance to amend his answer.”

    http://www.wyden.senate.gov/news/press-releases/wyden-statement-responding-to-director-clappers-statements-about-collection-on-americans

  8. GaryMcGuane

    “Director Clapper, does the National Security Agency eavesdrop on the international calls and emails of Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity?”

    The New York Times printed just such information in 2005, and seriously damaged U.S. intelligence collection. Conservatives across the board were rightly outraged.

    How should an administration official have answered had he been asked that before Congress?

    Either those running our intelligence services should not testify in open court, or the congressmen who question them should not ask questions designed to elicit classified information.

    There are many reasons to disdain Clapper. This is not one of them.

    1. The New York Times printed just such information in 2005, and seriously damaged U.S. intelligence collection. Conservatives across the board were rightly outraged.

      The issue is not collecting information on terrorists but on American citizens without proper judicial oversight. Given the fact that the administration just used the IRS to go after conservative groups the GOP is showing its stupidity because you can bet your ass that the NSA is spying on those same groups without judicial approval.

      How should an administration official have answered had he been asked that before Congress?

      He should have said that the Constitution was just a pice of paper and that the NSA could do whatever it wanted without letting Congress know. That would have been honest.

      Either those running our intelligence services should not testify in open court, or the congressmen who question them should not ask questions designed to elicit classified information.

      They should stop breaking the law by violating Constitutional protection that so many Americans died to earn and protect.

      There are many reasons to disdain Clapper. This is not one of them.

      Sure it is. Clapper is a parasite who lives off the taxpayer and has little regard for the principles on which the country was built. I would argue that he should be in jail. But I am a foreigner so I have little say in all this. I simply sit aside and watch in wonder as so many Americans show that they do not have the backbone to defend their liberty and their rights. When will they realize that the idiot terrorists who hide in those caves have won? Or that the, ‘they hate us because we are free line,’ is just one big joke?

  9. He was shown the question before he appeared. If he didn’t like the question, he could have expressed his concerns privately. The real deal is he doesn’t trust those in charge of supervising him and he will not tell them the truth. Shame on you for trying to provide the fig leaf.

  10. If Clapper and Wyden both knew that the info was classfied, then that is what clapper should have repsonded: “It’s classified.” But he didn’t.

    1. GoneWithTheWind

      And if Clapper had responded “it’s classified” then everyone including our enemies would know the answer. Clapper was caught in a catch 22.

  11. Lew Davies

    I think Wyden is a libe3ral loser from Oregon, but Clapper is a joke. Wyden sent the questions in advance to Clapper. If Clapper didn’t want to answer it in public, he should have contacted Wyden in advance and told him of the danger of his asking the question. Absent that, he should has stated that he was uncomfortable answering directly because it may compromise how intelligence is gathered.

    Clapper is incompetent and never should have been confirmed. Wyden doesn’t care a whit about the Constitution. Off with both their heads.

  12. How about “That’s above my pay grade?”

  13. Sorry, what is shameful and reprehensible is that the government has classified that they even track phone calls and other data. How is national security threatened by the American people knowing that, yes, the NSA does track and collect certain data. I find it disturbing that so many commentators think that the American people should have no say on the actions of their government.

  14. This is a reprehensible point of view. If the chief of the entire US intelligence community will lie to Congress, then we are in a terrible situation. Our elected representatives cannot oversee the intelligence community if they cannot demand truthful answers. In that case we are a banana f-ing republic.

    One can debate whether Wyden should have asked the question or not, but we cannot have a DNI who lies to Congress.

    What the heck is wrong with you, Marc Thiessen?

    1. What the heck is wrong with you, Marc Thiessen?

      He is just a neocon who sees little wrong with a noble lie here or there as long as it serves those in power. We can’t have people who love liberty get in the way, can we? That means a lot of false flag operations and perhaps a convenient war to take attention from the real issues that should be discussed.

  15. That question is actually easy to answer: “Any type of data? Sure, Congressman. In the same sense that the Census Bureau collects population data, it is important that the NSA collect and analyze enormous amounts of data to ensure that we can detect and hopefully prevent attacks on the security and sovereignty of our nation.” There, was that so hard? It sounds good, doesn’t really address the question, yet is truthful as far as it goes. Look, I’m not all that thrilled with what NSA appears to be doing, but what did we all really think they were doing with all that electronic wiz-bang stuff? Oh, and Clapper is a bumbling fool!

  16. “It’s not MY fault I LIED UNDER OATH TO CONGRESS”… someone made me perjure myself.

    Really? I’m supposed to think THAT is a legal defense?

    Can you show me the law that makes lying under oath acceptable if you know some classified information?

    I’ve got to find some classified information so perjury will no longer be criminal for me… that’s a great loophole.

    Thanks guys for telling me if you’re one of the elite you can break laws that send lesser men to jail…. now I’ve just got to get into the higher castes of our society so breaking laws is encouraged and rewarded.

    Rule of Law? Equality under the law? No, those are silly… we need a caste-based system like a monarchy. So much better for freedom and liberty.

  17. Others have pointed out the absurdity of Thiessen claiming that it was proper for Clapper to lie to Congress and the public about the massive data collection. They have also pointed out the nonsense of the claim that Wyden never should have asked the question- and no response about why it was irresponsible after having given Clapper the question a day ahead of time.

    Little of what Thiessen has to say makes sense, but was anyone else struck by this:

    “people would have jumped to all sorts of false conclusions that the NSA was reading our emails and listening to our phone calls (which they are not).”

    Now, if Thiessen actually knows whether the NSA is reading our emails and listening to our phone calls, and if the program is as secret as he says it is, then he should not be breaking classification by telling us what NSA is not doing.

    If Thiessen has no idea what NSA is doing, which much more likely, then he is just making up his claim that they are not ” reading our emails and listening to our phone calls”

    And of course, having just told us that he believes that one should lie to the public when one would rather not tell the trust, why would anyone listen to anything Thiessen has to say???

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