An Inconvenient Truth: Members of Congress Go Silent Over Prior False Testimony On Surveillance

16-28The Republican and Democratic parties have achieved a bipartisan purpose in uniting against the public’s need to know about massive surveillance programs and the need to redefine privacy in a more surveillance friendly image. They have also united in attacking Snowden as a traitor and seeking his prosecution for telling the public about the program. In the midst of this full-court press to lull the public back into sleep over civil liberties, the members will face a slightly inconvenient problem: possible perjury. These members have repeatedly called for perjury and contempt prosecutions of officials who have given false or misleading testimony like Eric Holder. However, they have a little problem with Obama officials who seem to have given false or intentionally misleading testimony over the surveillance of citizens. The problem is that these members want the scandal (and the public) to go away. Many of them knew at the time that the public was being told untrue things in these hearings. It will only be embarrassing to now address the falsehoods fed to the public in their presence and with their knowledge. In other words, they were all lying to the public and, under our new relativistic world, a lie told by everyone is treated as the truth.

220px-James_R._Clapper_official_portraitConsider the testimony of James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, to the Senate in March. Clapper said unequivocally that the N.S.A. was not gathering data on millions of Americans. That is obviously false and Senators hearing the testimony knew that the public was being lied to.

How about this exchange?

Senator Wyden: “Does the N.S.A. collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

Clapper: “No, sir. Not wittingly.”

However, it was done “wittingly” when you demand all of the calls for all citizens, right? Clapper will argue that he simply defines collecting data differently from the vast majority of humanity. However, courts regularly reject such subjective views of the truth. The point of the answer was to assure the public that they have nothing to worry about — the same message being given by members now that the truth has come out. Clapper’s testimony was for the public to hear and believe — even though Senators knew it to be untrue. Keep in mind that we have two surveillance programs now being reported — one collecting all call information and one involving email data.

Clapper has recently said that his testimony was “the least untrue” statement that he could make. Yet, of course that would still make it an untrue statement — which most people call a lie and lawyers call perjury. Indeed, when Roger Clemens was prosecuted for untrue statements before Congress, he was not told of the option to tell the least untrue statement on steroid use.

What is remarkable is that, while such hearings are presented as spontaneous, senators routinely send their questions in advance to officials. That is what Wyden did with Clapper so he knew this question was coming. Afterward, Wyden gave him a chance to correct his statement and he did not.

Gen. Keith B. Alexander, the N.S.A. director, has reportedly also given such false statements. N.S.A.’s general counsel, Rajesh De, called rumors of such spying merely “false myths” and that the suggestion that the “N.S.A. is spying on Americans at home and abroad with questionable or no legal basis.”

There is clearly an effort by Feinstein and others to ignore this testimony to avoid having to deal with their own culpability. The same was true with torture. Congressional members knew of the program while feigning outrage in public. They then worked with the White House to quash any hearings or investigations that would implicate their own involvement.

The result is that the Justice Department will continue to prosecute ordinary citizens for relatively small inconsistencies in testimony or statements to investigators. However, high-ranking officials in both branches will have a license to lie because it is not a lie when no one is willing to acknowledge the truth.

225px-LeninOur leaders have embraced that core view of Lenin that “A Lie told often enough becomes the truth.”

Source: NY Times

165 thoughts on “An Inconvenient Truth: Members of Congress Go Silent Over Prior False Testimony On Surveillance

  1. All I see while scrolling through these rants are challanges of our constitutional rights. Do ya think the founders knew about sattelites, cell phones, computers etc? Do you think they did not spy on people? Of course they did. Just differently. Did they see a third world intent on taking on the greatest nation ever? Transparency is a neccessary way of keeping the public informed, but, there are some things and programs, especially in the intelligence monitoring community that if oversight is needed, then do so in private. Idiots like traitor Snowden, who swore an oath to not reveal his activities, broke the law. I am not worried one second on what information may have been gathered about me. I held a Top Secret clearance for 25 yrs and saw nothing that threatened american citizens not involved in evil activities. We live in a new world people. A world with elements hell bent on destroying the USA, and they are using this technology to do so. I have faith and confidence in the USA? Those of you who do not, find an island in the south pacific and create your libritarian cocoon.

    • “Those of you who do not, find an island in the south pacific and create your libritarian cocoon.”

      Thank you for your service. But since you are the one who wants to throw away what some of us, and our fathers before us fought and died to protect, perhaps you should be the one to find an island. You are, after all, the one who wants to change what has worked well for well over two hundred years.

      Actually I hope you will stay to engage in thoughtful discussion.

      Certainly we live in a very different world. And there are grave threats around us.

      The difficult question is what choices preserve as much as possible of our traditional constitutional protection and still give us the best chance to overcome our adversaries.

      I am no pacifist. But I have serous questions regarding new policies like agency warrants which seem to add little to our ability detect terrorists and yet do great harm to our constitution. Even if you argue for the agency warrants, the FBI’s IG itself has acknowledged wide spread abuse of this legal tool despite its great power. What could possibly explain the misuse of the agency warrants except that great power tends to call forth even greater action.

      There are many other examples we could draw from the Patriot act, the implementation and practice of the FISA courts, and NSA practice which some would argue goes far beyond legislation or the knowledge of congress.

      The question is not should we have the tools to defend ourselves. The question is are these tools necessary for our defense or do these tools add little to our capability while posing a great threat to our privacy, and political security.

      These tools are clearly the foundation and the infrastructure of the police state. I don’t fear Obama’s administration or even Bush. But what prevents the next president or the one after that from turning this great security apparatus on the citizens of this nation?

  2. SGT Kelly,

    Good for you…. And some things need surveillance … But the congressional folks and the president also took oaths to uphold the construction of the constitution…..

    With your statement it is clear that you would follow an illegal and unlawful order of a superior and subject yourself to criminal prosecution…. I suppose ole Ollie has a different view on these things now than you do… He sir was prosecuted and held out to dry by the chain of command….

    Would you still follow an illegal or unlawful order? If so you’re no better than the criminal ordering the same….

  3. The ACLU suit in the Southern District of New York cites the First and Fourth Amendments. They would be wise to amend and include the Fifth Amendment and the Ninth Amendment. Here is the Fifth Amendment:

    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.[1]


    The deprivation of life, liberty or property without due process of law is relevant here, as is the private property taken for public use.

    The plaintiffs in the Klayman case filed in the District of Columbia cited the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

    It will be interesting to see what the defendants file in response. I would like to be there if they take the depositions of some of these defendants and ask them about their lies to Congress.

  4. Mike Kelley,

    You might find the link below helpful in reassessing your, “[w]e live in a new world people,” comment. No, it’s not about COINTELPRO — which I’m sure you’re aware of with your twenty-five years of top-secret clearance — and how it wiped out those free-speech SDS commies.

    The linked article, in a humorous way, uses simple matrix analysis on the social connections of historical figures in New England before the Revolutionary War. The results are surprising given the paucity of data.

    At the end of the linked article there is a link to a more detailed and serious analysis if you feel inspired to see both sides of the “new world” you allude to.

  5. I am just a solo ranter on this blog with no experience in life and am willing to look up to someone with staff sgt credentials and what not and my gosh those terrorists are bad. So I will quit ranting about the liars on Capital Hill and go play Ma Jong with the retired folks and let the experts decide our fate.

  6. Yeah, none of us dogs here on the blog know nuthin bout birthin babies and aint been in no military or had experience in national security whether as dogs or as humans in a prior life.

  7. […] President Barack Obama said that he wanted to “reset” relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and bring the countries closer together. He appears to have succeeded. Yesterday, Putin defended Obama in creating a warrantless surveillance system that is much like Russia’s. In the meantime, a leading Chinese dissent in the United States has said that the program reminds him not of Russia but the police state in China. It appears that Obama can finally claim to have broken down the differences between the United States and both Russia and China in his new America. All we had to do is change our whole notion of privacy (as well as other legal concepts like perjury). […]

  8. The Bush administration created the Patriot act. Obama campaigned against the Patriot act and then renewed and expanded it. The American people are now treated like the enemy and the elitist running the country are united in continuing this program that stifles free speech.

  9. Cam,

    Shhhhh…. The George W. Obama supporters/defenders will lynch you….. The truth does not matter…. He’s a democrat and you’re racist because you said something against him…. Tsk, tsk…. You’ll learn….

    Now, if you want to blast Bush for the same thing…. They will be behind you 10000%…,,,

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