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
emptywheel @ColMorrisDavis But they said this in 2004 and 2005 and 2007 and 2009 and 2010 and 2011 and 2012 and 2013.
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emptywheel Chuck Todd, w/health insurance so he doesn't think 500,000 people getting it anew is big deal, will Meet the Voters https://t.co/sQs2p3D9L7
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emptywheel @bmaz to be fair, PAA was birthed after all but Mueller moved on, and the problems came in part bc they changed things after Baker moved on
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bmaz RT @OrinKerr: Supreme Court denied cert in case on Davis good-faith exception to exclusionary rule, Aguiar v. US. Good news if you like exc…
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bmaz RT @EFF: In Smith v. Obama, the gov't seems to argue that the constitution has a national security exception. It doesn't: https://t.co/KZpY
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bmaz @emptywheel But, but, but....Hospital heroism!!
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bmaz @seanpaulkelley @JimWhiteGNV Come on man, @AmbassadorPower was absolutely awful on her own already, Kissinger just icing on the cake.
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bmaz @rickhasen It is absolutely brutal here. Airwaves are flooded by dark money ads against @FeleciaForAZ It is sick.
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bmaz @TimothyS @DougHenwood And thats because next President may appoint up to three Supreme Court justices. That cannot be left to a Republican
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bmaz @TimothyS @DougHenwood Fantastic article+agree completely with it. Still, if Hillary is the Dem who can win in 2016 I will vote for her.
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bmaz @jaketapper @evanperez Interesting he selected the banister issue, because they could have easily been pursued legally. So why weren't they?
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bmaz RT @Scout_Finch: This. RT @GibberishBabble: “@kharyp: There are more Donald Trump bankruptcies than US #Ebola cases. #UniteBlue http://t.co
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