James Clapper Confirms NSA Engages in Domestic Surveillance

In today’s threat hearing, Jim Langevin tried to get James Clapperto provider him with talkingp points he could use in radio interviews about the seriousness of the Snowden leaks. (39:15 and following)

One problem with that — as Clapper readily admitted — is that the Intelligence Community doesn’t know what Snowden has (in spite of their repeated leaked claims that he has 1.7 million documents).

Clapper: We don’t really know the full extent or the full impact of these revelations.

Langevin pressed, asking Clapper to quantify in some way what he had briefed the committee that the “vast majority of data that’s been stolen, that we’ve been able to assess to date, has had very little to do with just surveillance.”

Clapper hedged and hedged, until Langevin got him to say that “less than 10% of what Snowden might potentially have taken (but they don’t know one way or another) has to do with domestic surveillance.”

Clapper: That’s also difficult. I can just say that the vast vast majority of what has been potentially compromised — as I indicated in my oral statement — goes way way beyond the revelations about domestic surveillance which I was given to understand that was his primary concern. What he potentially — what he accessed, what he scraped, what he potentially made off with is, uh, transcends that. So it’s quite serious.

Langevin: Can you say–

Clapper: It’s hard pressed to ascribe a number.

Langevin: Can you give a, is it 10% or,

Clapper: I would say that probably less than 10% has to do with domestic surveillance.

Now, there’s a lot that’s telling about this exchange. I have noted months ago that the government would have been better served providing Snowden a way to cooperate with their investigation, as former actual spies would. But they chose to strand him in Russia, leaving them perpetually uncertain about what Snowden has and what the Russians might get, and therefore responding not just to what does get released, but to everything they think he might potentially have taken.

Then there’s Clapper’s suggestion that all Snowden might want to expose only “domestic surveillance.” The notion that US corruption of encryption standards, or US collection of US person data overseas, or Five Eyes creation of the architecture of tyranny (turnkey tyranny and architecture of oppression are terms Snowden has used), is not every bit as important as exposing the dragnet, he misunderstands the power of the dragnets he oversees.

But finally, there’s Clapper’s use of the term “domestic surveillance” (which in his opening statement he called “so-called domestic surveillance”) and his suggestion that less than 10% of Snowden’s leaks address it.

The NSA has been telling us for months and months they don’t engage in domestic surveillance.

James Clapper apparently admits they do.

 

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9 Responses to James Clapper Confirms NSA Engages in Domestic Surveillance

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @ScottGreenfield Of course they WERE willing to so long as they could do so quietly. #Fuckers
2mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @ScottGreenfield @ntswanson @JudgeKopf Yep. And no matter what, you have to admire that quality. And I do.
5mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @emptywheel @TimothyS @onekade Seconded again! Hey it is still dark out here, I am lagging....
6mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @matthewamiller I am ashamed of the naiveté of the American press. At worst, Snowden cast more light on RU surveillance than was before.
7mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @onekade As opposed to "gag just ask nicely" here in the US.
12mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @ScottGreenfield @ntswanson @JudgeKopf Yes, sadly, it very much does. Then again, it is, I suppose, at least maddeningly honest.
14mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz Not very satisfying RT @ScottGreenfield Oh boy.-->RT @JudgeKopf: Why does Kopf believes cops most of the time? http://t.co/VAemO3FW0B
15mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @nickmartin That fox has been guarding the henhouse for a long time.
19mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @emptywheel @onekade Todashev got the "final deportation" courtesy of the FBI.
21mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @jeremyduns Thanks. Telling ME that is useless. As I only control my work. The vast majority of which is for emptywheel.
25mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @SBN_BillC @Travis_Waldron That is a FACT. Jeebus.
25mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @onekade Seconded! Thanks @TimothyS
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