Washington attempts to contain fallout from NSA surveillance leaks, Clapper apparently lied under oath
By Madison Ruppert
Editor of End the Lie
Individuals in Washington are now engaging in damage control in response to the devastating information leaked by Edward Snowden about the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs as it becomes increasingly apparent that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied under oath.
President Barack Obama quickly came out in defense of the NSA’s programs which range from grabbing all of Verizon’s U.S. phone records to working directly with tech giants on the PRISM program but the administration is now kicking it into high gear.
Recently, Clapper slammed the press over their coverage of the NSA surveillance programs and based on what we know now, it seems quite clear that he actually lied under oath.
In the below clip taken from a March Senate hearing, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked Clapper, “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?”
“No, sir,” Clapper said.
“It does not?” asked Wyden.
“Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not wittingly,” Clapper answered.
However, we now know that this is not the case.
Even ABC’s George Stephanopoulos found it difficult to buy Clapper’s statements.
“Senator Feinstein, I have to confess, I have a hard time squaring that answer with what we learned this week,” Stephanopoulos said.
“Well, I think this is very hard. There is no more direct or honest person than Jim Clapper, and I think both Mike and I know that. You can misunderstand the question,” claimed Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). “This is one of the dilemmas of talking about it. He could have thought the question had content or something, but it is true that this is a wide collection of phone records, as Mike said. No name, no content. But the number to number, the length of time, the kind of thing that’s on the telephone bill, and we have to deal with that.”
The problem with Feinstein’s response is that Wyden asked about “any type of data.” Telephone metadata – the type of information collected from Verizon – is, by all accounts, indeed data.
Apparently some in the U.S. intelligence community aren’t all too happy with Snowden, the man behind exposing the NSA programs.
The Atlantic’s Washington-based editor-at-large Steve Clemons reported that he overheard four alleged U.S. intelligence officials talking about how Snowden should be “disappeared.” Recently it was reported that Snowden checked out of his hotel, going back underground.
Meanwhile, the White House has been tight-lipped about Snowden, offering no indication on Monday about their next move in dealing with the top secret NSA activities seeing the light of day.
Yet Jay Carney did defend the administration’s overall stance on the NSA surveillance programs, claiming they’re a necessary middle ground between complete privacy and security.
Carney claimed that Obama would be willing to consider changes “should a national debate show the public wants them,” according to CNN, yet Carney also said, “This is not the manner by which he hoped to have the debate.”
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, said Snowden is “a defector” who should be turned over the U.S. and “prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
“This person is dangerous to the country,” King said.
Glenn Greenwald, the journalist with the Guardian who first reported on PRISM and interviewed Snowden, contends that the leak doesn’t actually jeopardize national security.
“In every single case over the past four to five decades, when there are revelations of wrongdoing that is done in secret, what the strategy of the U.S. government is to try and come out and scare the American public into saying, ‘these people have jeopardized you, there’s going to be a terrorist attack,’” Greenwald said on NBC’s “Today” on Monday.
“There’s not a single revelation that we’ve provided to the world that even remotely jeopardizes national security,” Greenwald added.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) also maintained over the weekend that national security leaks like these endanger American lives.
“As journalists I think our No. 1 obligation should be to not allow government officials to scream ‘terrorists’ every time there’s transparency brought to them, but instead to scrutinize whether those claims are valid, and there’s not anything that we’ve revealed to the world that can be said to even remotely harm national security,” Greenwald maintained.
“He says that he’s got it all and now is an expert on this program,” Rogers said referring to Greenwald on ABC’s “This Week.”
“He doesn’t have a clue and neither does the person who released just enough information to literally be dangerous,” Rogers said.
Meanwhile, Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) said that he is working on a lawsuit against the NSA and FBI while Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he wants to challenge the NSA surveillance programs in the Supreme Court.
Reports have indicated that Snowden may seek asylum in Iceland though Greenwald said he is still in Hong Kong via Twitter. However, some have cast doubt on the possibility of being granted asylum in Iceland.
It remains to be seen what steps the Obama administration will take in response to the leaks, how they will deal with Snowden and where he will flee.
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