Laws are like spiders’ webs: if some light or powerless thing falls into them, it is caught, but a bigger one can break through and get away. Solon
It has been reported and discussed, but I can’t let it go by. James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, perjured himself in front of a Senate committee, and he is going to get away with it.
On March 12 of this year Clapper appeared in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the following exchange occurred:
SEN. RON WYDEN (D-OR.): “This is for you, Director Clapper, again on the surveillance front. And I hope we can do this in just a yes or no answer because I know Senator Feinstein wants to move on. Last summer, the NSA director was at a conference, and he was asked a question about the NSA surveillance of Americans. He replied, and I quote here, ‘The story that we have millions or hundreds of millions of dossiers on people is completely false.’
“The reason I’m asking the question is, having served on the committee now for a dozen years, I don’t really know what a dossier is in this context. So what I wanted to see is if you could give me a yes or no answer to the question, does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
Director of National Intelligence JAMES CLAPPER: “No, sir.”
SEN. WYDEN: “It does not?”
DIR. CLAPPER: “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.”
SEN. WYDEN: “Thank you. I’ll have additional questions to give you in writing on that point, but I thank you for the answer.”
Since then we have seen the revelations by Edward Snowden, a former employee of Booz-Allen-Hamilton and the CIA, which completely contradict this. Yes, in fact, the NSA has been collecting all sorts of data on essentially every American.
Clapper didn’t have to lie. Senator Wyden had given him the list of questions in advance and offered him the chance to modify his answers afterward.
Clapper himself admitted to lying on national television. “I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful manner, by saying no.” “Least untruthful” means “untruthful”, which means he lied under oath to the Senate, which is a crime, as follows.
False Statements (18 U.S.C. 1001)
I. Except as otherwise provided in this section,
II. whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive,
legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States,
III. knowingly and willfully—
IV. a. falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
b. makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
c. makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any
materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry; shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both.
In theory, Honest Jimmy is facing up to 5 years in federal prison. Well, if you or I confessed to perjury on national television, it’s likely we would be facing up to 5 years. James Clapper, DNI, however, is a powerful Washington insider. He’s more likely to win the Powerball.
It reminds me of an incident a few years ago when President Bush said on national television that he had authorized 30 cases of warrantless wiretapping. If an ordinary person had admitted to participating in a conspiracy that involved 30 cases of warrantless wiretapping, that person would be looking at prosecution.
And, as MSNBC’s Chris Hayes points out, Snowdon and Glenn Greenwald get vilified for leaking, while journalists who peddle government sponsored leaks get a pass.
It’s not about national security or rule of law. It’s just about power.
An administrative note: I now have a Twitter account, @MinorHeretic. I swore I would never get one, but, well, it’s complicated. The @MinorHeretic account is the diametric opposite of this blog. So far I seem to be posting oddball things I see in passing, animal pictures, and trivia. Pure amusement value. Everyone needs a break.