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. fuk the nsa. hey nsa geek boy, kiss my monkey a$$. 🙂

    just funnin which ya.

  2. Lets see this works. Clapper is a great citizen. The NSA is doing its job to gather Megadata. Without Megadata we can not keep Saudis off of planes at Login Airport or their box cutters. America is great.

  3. Soon us bloggers here will have to employ a bulletin board in Hong Kong to discuss these issues. I would rather be in Iceland.

  4. I tried again to publish the synopsis of two Supreme Ct cases. WordPress is shutting me down. Or is it NSA? Huh? arf, bark, growl. Yep, its them.

  5. I will try again.

    New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964),[1] was a United States Supreme Court case that established the actual malice standard, which has to be met before press reports about public officials or public figures can be considered to be defamation and libel;[2] and hence allowed free reporting of the civil rights campaigns in the southern United States. It is one of the key decisions supporting the freedom of the press. The actual malice standard requires that the plaintiff in a defamation or libel case prove that the publisher of the statement in question knew that the statement was false or acted in reckless disregard of its truth or falsity. Because of the extremely high burden of proof on the plaintiff, and the difficulty in proving essentially what is inside a person’s head, such cases—when they involve public figures—rarely prevail.
    Before this decision, there were nearly US $300 million in libel actions outstanding against news organizations from the Southern states, and it had caused many publications to exercise great caution when reporting on civil rights, for fear that they might be held accountable for libel. After The New York Times prevailed in this case, news organizations were free to report the widespread disorder and civil rights infringements. The Times maintained that the case against it was brought to intimidate news organizations and prevent them from reporting illegal actions of public employees in the South as they attempted to continue to support segregation

    New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971), was a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the First Amendment. The ruling made it possible for the New York Times and Washington Post newspapers to publish the then-classified Pentagon Papers without risk of government censorship or punishment.
    President Richard Nixon had claimed executive authority to force the Times to suspend publication of classified information in its possession. The question before the court was whether the constitutional freedom of the press, guaranteed by the First Amendment, was subordinate to a claimed need of the executive branch of government to maintain the secrecy of information. The Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment did protect the right of the New York Times to print the materials.

    -end of Wikipedia

    I put these two synopsis of the two cases here to point out two relevant cases, each brought by the Times of yesteryear. Where are they today?

  6. What happened to my comment with quotes from Wikipedia on NY Times v. Sullivan and New York Times v. United States? Is WordPress part of NSA?

  7. Pingback: nsa | My Blog
  8. When Clapper was interviewed on TV last night it made me think of Curley in the Three Stooges. “Hotsie, Totsie, I smell a Nazi!”

  9. Goerring told a story during his incarceration at Nuremberg that it was he who set the Reichstag Fire. He said that there was an underground tunnel between an office and the Reichstag and that he set the fire and ran back to safety through the tunnel. They convinced President von Hindenburg that it was the Communists who set the fire. The President issued The Reichstag Fire Decree which, like the Patriot Act in 2011, set aside the protections of the German laws or Constitution. They rounded up the Communists, then the Gypsies and Jews. The war came, the Holocaust. These are the 1933 Parallels. Coming to a theatre near you.

  10. Gene,

    Bamford will be on Democracy Now, tomorrow. (I’m a longtime fan, as well.) It’s hard to believe that “Puzzle Palace” was written some 30 years ago…


    We’re in one not-so-fine mess…

    “As NSA director General Keith Alexander blasts the leaks that exposed widespread surveillance of Americans, we’re joined by Chris Pyle, a former military instructor who exposed the CIA and Army’s monitoring of millions of Americans in the 1970s. Pyle discovered the Army and CIA were spying on millions of Americans engaged in lawful political activity while he was in the Army working as an instructor. His revelations prompted Senate hearings, including Senator Frank Church’s Select Committee on Intelligence, ultimately leading to a series of laws aimed at curbing government abuses. Now teaching constitutional law and civil liberties at Mount Holyoke College, Pyle says the NSA is known for attacking its critics instead of addressing the problems they expose.”

  11. Whitney Harris was one of the American prosecutors at the Nuremberg Trials after WWII. He lived in Saint Louis, MO in the years of the 70’s until his death in 2010 at age 97. He advised young lawyers how to try a civil rights case. Here is a snippet from Wikipedia on Whitney and his role in the formation of the International Criminal Court in 1998. The U.S. is not a member. Hopefully it will be a defendant.

    Mr. Harris was a lawyer and Navy officer when the chief prosecutor at the trials, Robert H. Jackson, an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, recruited him as an assistant in 1945. The Office of Strategic Services, precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency, had dispatched Mr. Harris to Europe in the last years of World War II to gather evidence of Nazi atrocities.

    For the 1945-46 tribunal, 24 Nazi officials were indicted; 21 were tried, one in absentia; 18 were convicted; and 3 were acquitted. On the night of Oct. 15-16, 1946, 10 of the convicted were hanged, with Mr. Harris there representing the prosecution. During the trials, he had assisted in the cross-examination of Hermann Goering, Hitler’s designated successor. Goering avoided execution by ingesting cyanide just before the hangings.

    Forty-nine years after the last Nuremberg trial, Mr. Harris and two colleagues, Henry T. King Jr. and Benjamin Ferencz, joined forces to help shape the creation of the International Criminal Court. When delegates from 131 nations met in Rome to establish the court in 1998, their original draft placed war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide under its jurisdiction. The three prosecutors traveled to Rome and lobbied the delegates to broaden the definition of war crimes to include wars of aggression, as opposed to those fought in self-defense or authorized by the United Nations.

    “They used their moral authority; they were persistent, and ultimately the delegates included a reference to the crime of war of aggression in the court’s statute,” said Michael P. Scharf, the director of the International Law Center at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

    The I.C.C. is the first permanent international criminal court in history.

    Whitney Robson Harris was born in Seattle on Aug. 12, 1912, one of two children of Olin and Lily Georgine Harris. After graduating from the University of Washington in 1933, he received his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley. In 1954-55 he was executive director of the American Bar Association.

    Mr. Harris’s first wife, the former Jane Freund, died in 1999. Besides his wife, the former Anna Barwick, he is survived by a son, Eugene; three stepsons, Charles Foster Jr., Christopher Galakatos and Greg Galakatos; a stepdaughter, Theresa Galakatos; four grandchildren; and nine stepgrandchildren.

    In 1948, Mr. Harris returned to the United States to teach law at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. While there he began condensing the voluminous records of Nazi atrocities he had helped recover, including Himmler’s files containing reports of the Gestapo’s systematic mass slaughters.

    His book, “Tyranny on Trial: The Evidence at Nuremberg” (1954), was described by The Times as “the first complete historical and legal analysis of the Nuremburg trial” and “a book of enduring importance.”

    On the 60th anniversary of the international tribunal in 2005, Mr. Harris returned to Nuremburg and walked into Courtroom 600 in the Palace of Justice, the site of the trials. Before an audience of lawyers, judges, scholars and officials, he spoke of the significance of the 1998 treaty in Rome creating the International Criminal Court.

    “Although of the great powers only the United States, China and Russia remain non-signatories,” he said, “Germany, the nation whose despotic leadership brought on the Second World War, was the 23rd nation to ratify.”

    He added, “No more significant approval of the principles of the Nuremberg trial and, indeed, of the principles of law and justice essential to peace on planet Earth, could ever have been made.”

    — end

    BarkinDog here again. We need to study the Nuremberg Trials and the cases made against Kaltenbrunner and later against the defendants in The Judges Trial.

  12. ap,

    Great link. Bamford is a long time and very astute observer of the intelligence community. He’s also been a vocal critic of their role in the Bush and Obama administrations. I’ve been a fan of his since a friend in the intelligence community suggested that I read “The Puzzle Palace” almost 30 years ago.

  13. Lindsey Graham: “Raise your right hand and lie after me.”
    Clapper: “I, Chief Clapper, do solemnly swear, itShay, the Constitution, amnDay the American people, and artFay on the Congress.” “So help me Dog.” [he had a guide dog with him]

  14. In response to one of the anonymous commenters, Lindsey Graham is from SC, not NC. Unfortunately the difference between those states is shrinking. -no


    (-: John Rutherford wrote the piece and I didn’t catch it. I’m surprised that he got it wrong, but as you rightly say… “the difference is shrinking.”

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