Obviously Bogus Clapper Exoneration Attempt 5.0 Doesn’t Exactly Line Up with OBCEA 4.0

Office of Director of National Intelligence General Counsel Robert Litt, 45 days ago:

Senator Ron Wyden asked about collection of information on Americans during a lengthy and wide-ranging hearing on an entirely different subject. While his staff provided the question the day before, Mr. Clapper had not seen it. As a result, as Mr. Clapper has explained, he was surprised by the question and focused his mind on the collection of the content of Americans’ communications. In that context, his answer was and is accurate.

When we pointed out Mr. Clapper’s mistake to him, he was surprised and distressed. I spoke with a staffer for Senator Wyden several days later and told him that although Mr. Clapper recognized that his testimony was inaccurate, it could not be corrected publicly because the program involved was classified.

This incident shows the difficulty of discussing classified information in an unclassified setting and the danger of inferring a person’s state of mind from extemporaneous answers given under pressure.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, today:

But Clapper told The Daily Beast that he simply misunderstood Wyden’s question. At the time of the hearing last March, Congress had just finished consideration of a bill to renew the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Section 702 of that legislation gives the National Security Agency the authority to collect the electronic communications of non-U.S. persons. In his question, Wyden asked initially if the United States had collected “dossiers” on American citizens and referred to an answer to this question by then NSA director, Keith Alexander.

“I was not even thinking of what he was asking about, which is of course we now all know as section 215 of the Patriot Act governing the acquisition and storage of telephony business records metadata,” Clapper said. “Wasn’t even thinking of that.” The director of national intelligence said he thought Wyden’s question was actually about section 702 of FISA.

“The allegation about my lying and committing perjury I think are disproven by my labored amplification when I said, ‘if there is, it’s inadvertent collection,’ meaning when we’re collecting overseas under section 702, and if we inadvertently collect which we may not know at the time, U.S. persons data, that’s what I meant by inadvertent. That comment would make absolutely no sense whatsoever in the context of section 215.”

At the time of the Mitchell interview, the U.S. government was still in the process of declassifying elements of the FISA 702 program. “There is only one person on the planet who actually knows what I was thinking,” Clapper said of his testimony from last March. “Not the media, and not certain members of Congress, only I know what I was thinking.”

If only one person knows what he was thinking, then how was Robert Litt in any position to tell us Clapper was “surprised”?

And has Clapper decided he wasn’t “surprised” (perhaps because he had been briefed, not to mention had received months and months of letters, about the question), but instead simply “misunderstood” the intent of a question he had received months of letters about?

9 replies
  1. C says:

    Good catch as usual EW.

    And now:

    Boy that surprise is pretty handy. I mean you can duck a question when you are under oath and then later refuse to answer because the actual answer is “classified” and you are no longer under oath. Then when caught in a lie you blame your own “surprise”. That’s awesome!

    Can we all do that? Can I be “surprised” by the meaning of the tax code and demand payment? That would be great! I’m sure noone would send me to jail!

    Sorry just had to get that off my chest.

  2. der says:

    They do not give a shit. Like Christie and his Administration, the High School jock class president doesn’t care and you’re not cool so get out of his face. As far as the Center-Right-Further Right are concerned MSNBC is a liberal witch hunting lefty geek squad looking to lift their Neilsen ratings out of the toilet.

    Changing the story has a purpose, the last word wins: “..something I like to call Cokie’s Law, after Steve Roberts wife. It comes from the Village maxim, “It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, it’s out there,” which was based upon this quote from Cokie Roberts back in 1999:

    “At this point,” said Roberts, “it doesn’t much matter whether she said it or not because it’s become part of the culture. I was at the beauty parlor yesterday and this was all anyone was talking about.”

    Benghazi!Whitewater!National Security!

    It works. People have little time to pay attention when paying bills is more important.

  3. orionATL says:

    so why would this defense come up now?

    who turned up the heat?

    who, now suddenly, deems it important to turn the heat down on clapper’s lying to congress? and why?

    what is missing in this debate is “clapper in his own words”, to whit,

    “i made … the least untruthful answer.”

    does that sound like a man who was confused about the subject of the question asked of him?

    somebody(s) is on the same page as benji wittes – the re-write history page. where’s the heat that motivates this re-write campaign coming from?

    next up, i predict:

    a campaign to re-write general keith alexander’s lies.

    finally, who is paying for this extensive, several-months-long now, PR campaign to put back the shine on nsa’s tarnished brass.

  4. Pitchfork says:


    “There is only one person on the planet who actually knows what I was thinking,” Clapper said of his testimony from last March. “Not the media, and not certain members of Congress, only I know what I was thinking.”

    The lying prick is starting to think he might get away with it after all. And how much exactly are we paying Robert Litt to lie to our faces on behalf of his liar boss?

  5. Rosalind says:

    I agree, Mr. Clapper. The only person who knows what you were thinking is you. Yet you oversee a machine that contends it can tell what I or anyone else is thinking at any time by stealing everything that makes up our private selves and dumping it into unsecured databases from which you will make assumptions that will determine our fates.

    Assumptions that can destroy our fate.

    Think on that a while longer, Mr. Clapper.

  6. What Constitution? says:

    The crux of Clapper’s “on further reflection, we should have proposed this openly and conducted ourselves in a manner consistent with the Constitution” performance really must result in three things: First, this criminal goes to jail; second, Snowden is pardoned, with or without a Presidential Medal of Freedom; and third, the NSA’s structures thoroughly are reviewed from a from-the-ground-up perspective. Not necessarily in that order.

    Nothing is more clear from Clapper’s tripe than that he isn’t sorry he did it, he’s just sorry he got caught and that he can’t convincingly deny the illegality of what he’s been caught doing.

  7. Wittingly says:

    “Jimmy, did you steal any cookies out of the cookie jar?”

    “No Mom, absolutely not!

    “But what about all those chocolate crumbs on your face and hands?”

    “OH, I thought you were asking about the PEANUT BUTTER cookies!”

  8. JTMinIA says:

    Here’s a question for Mr Clapper: “would you ever suggest targeting someone because of something they said?”

    Why ask this? Well, if saying something that isn’t true in the context of the actual question is not lying because the speaker may have thought they were being asked a different question (and no-one other than speaker can know which question was being answered), then nothing anyone says can ever be used against them because they, too, may have been answering a different question.

    “Hey, [insert terrorist name here], are you ready to blow up the UN base?”

    “Yes, I will do it today.” (But Aziz or Ahmed or whomever is actually saying that he’ll pay the phone bill, so do not target him, please.)

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