Clapper Lied & Spied, now charges Trump w/ assault on Gov’t Institutions

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

During the past week we’ve been subjected to hours of testimony by or interviews with James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence.

On Sunday, Clapper made waves when he said on CNN that Donald Trump is engaged in an assault on US institutions by doing things like firing the head of the CIA and challenging the separation of powers between the executive and the legislative.

We can agree with that sentiment without agreeing that Clapper can be the poster boy for upholding the integrity of US institutions.

Clapper is a former head of the Army’s Defense Intelligence Agency and for 7 years, 2010-2017, he headed up Barack Obama’s NI, which oversees the 17 intelligence agencies including the shadowy NSA.

Clapper massively undermined the 4th Amendment of the Constitution with bulk warrantless surveillance of the US public. It was the malpractice of the NSA under Clapper that drove otherwise good soldier Edward Snowden to risk life and liberty to blow the whistle.

I wrote about Clapper in 2014,

“James Clapper. Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, was involved in massive and willful violations of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. He perjured himself before Congress, denying that the NSA was collecting masses of personal material from Americans. President Obama excused Clapper’s behavior on both accounts, saying he should be more careful. A-Rod should have been more careful. Clapper should not have told Congress a bald-faced lie, and shouldn’t have snooped into our metadata to begin with. Showing his fascist colors, he now wants to make journalists “accomplices” for publishing Snowden’s revelations. Clapper himself should be in the slammer, not Snowden.”

Clapper’s NSA was collecting location data on 5 billion cell phones around the world, including those of some Americans.

The NSA also used dirty tricks to weaken encryption standards, the kind of thing that led directly to the massive ransomware hacks that hit hospitals and other key institutions this weekend. That attack hit Microsoft. Apple has better encryption, but Clapper’s friend Jim Comey tried to weaken privacy on all Apple devices to solve one mass killing (there are hundreds of those a year).

Apparently no one told Obama what the NSA was up to for the first year or year and a half of his presidency. Talk about Deep State! Frontline reported that he finally got read in, in 2010. I suppose it must have been Clapper who deigned to let the Commander in Chief know that the NSA had unilaterally suspended the constitution and was rifling through the private papers and effects of millions of people. It is one of the things about the Obama presidency about which future historians will judge him negatively, that he just nodded and let Clapper carry on.

Senator Ron Wyden knew what Clapper and other US security agencies were up to, but could not speak out for fear of being arrested. He hinted around as broadly as he could that a provision in the highly unpatriotic USA PATRIOT Act was being misused for mass spying on us.

What kind of tinpot dictatorship do we live in where a sitting senator can know of executive branch crimes against the constitution, and be afraid to speak about it on the floor of the senate?

Clapper testified under oath before Congress about these issues and was directly asked if he was surveilling us.

He said, “No.”

He lied under oath.

Lying under oath was actually the charge on which Bill Clinton was impeached by the lower house (and I do mean lower).

Clapper also wanted to violate the first amendment of the constitution (having more or less abolished the 4th amendment) by jailing reporters who covered the Snowden revelations!

Clapper skated. I don’t know if, like J. Edgar Hoover, he just has fat files on the foibles of Washington heavyweights or what. For some reason he was teflon.

So, Clapper cannot be the poster boy for objections to Trump acting high-handedly.

We have to find someone with integrity to idolize as a Trump critic if we are actually going to dig out of this hole.

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*An earlier version of this essay misidentified Mr. Clapper as having been head of the NSA.

Related video:

Ron Wyden: “DNI Clapper tells Wyden the NSA does not collect data on millions of Americans”

15 Responses

  1. “……Clapper, former head of the shadowy National Security Agency…”

    Actually, James Clapper previously headed the Defense Intelligence Agency and later served as the Director of National Intelligence – however he never held a position in the National Security Agency.

    • Thanks so much Mark. Sometimes blogging makes a person fuzzy minded but of course I know Clapper was DNI. DNI oversees NSA among others, which what was probably on my mind.

  2. Clapper was sitting two feet away from Sally Yates while she testified about Flynn being compromised because he lied. Wouldn’t Clapper’s lies have compromised him? Did the Justice Dept warn the White House?
    Why would the Dem’s be so stupid/brazen to put Clapper right in the middle of the Russian controversy? Why would Trump’s defenders ignore the opportunity to discredit the investigation?
    I can’t even come up with a crazy conspiracy theory to account for this, let alone a reasonable explanation.

    • Its occurred to me that many of these public posturings really are nothing but sales presentations on those who don’t know better. Has anyone ever been convicted of lying here? Yeah, stuff does come out, but it has to have backing to be invited.

      The point is better made by POTUS. Obama and Trump couldn’t have more different styles, but once in office they will do what they’re told, or pick from the options offered.

      Trump has become the GOP’s useful idiot, poised to sell every wet dream they’ve ever had. For that sort of front man they’ll tolerate anything, as we now see.

  3. Of course the NSA, CIA, FBI, etc. are spying on us. This is war and governments always overstep any boundaries and use the “war” as justification. There are supreme court cases that rationalize this. Consider internment during WWII.

    There is no point in complaining about the destruction of democracy while the excuse “war” remains. War is incredibly corrosive of democracy. It is number one enemy of democracy.

    To preserve our democracy we must end these wars. When we have completed that task we can then try to restrain the NSA, CIA, and FBI and hope that we can be successful.

    • End the sacredness of war. Stop all these wars of economic policy, of course, but also get rid of their reverential status, that enables criminal governmental behavior and encourages disgraceful public jingoism disguised as patriotism.

  4. What is spoken too in this article concerning James Clapper’s credibility could be said of many of our nations leaders. Clapper is among the fortunate many in our nations capital whereas there is no one being held accountable for anything, at any time.

    Back in 2001 when our nation went to Afghanistan for revenge of 911, we all thought we would capture Osama bin Laden and then be home by Christmas. There were no WMD’s in Iraq, and yet no one was held accountable.

    I won’t go on, but think to yourself when was anyone in DC ever held accountable. James Clapper is just one more example of what is wrong in our country’s mechanism.

  5. Is anyone else as pissed as I am that lying under oath has become routine? And as for all those photo ops of the “chosen” being sworn in?–more garbage. I don’t believe Steve Mnuchin has a milligram of godly fear in him. So why do we bother? Better to put congressional witnesses on a polygraph machine and watch the needle fly.

  6. “We have to find someone with integrity to idolize as a Trump critic if we are actually going to dig out of this hole.”

    There are many people available, but none are in politics… or business. I like Pope Francis for it, but then, he’s Catholic and there may be objections… Or Malala, but she’s Muslim and there may be objections… Or Vandana Shiva, but she’s Hindu and there may be objections…
    Gosh, it’ *is* hard to find someone!

  7. Thanks for this. It is of course possible that Russian military intelligence hacked the DNC and handed the information directly over to Wikileaks, but the only source we have for this is Clapper, and he will not present the chain of evidence. When our intelligence agencies begin to meddle in politics, the Republic is in danger from them, especially when the entire leadership of the Democratic Party begins to treat someone like Clapper as if he is a reliable source, or even worse a respectable head of one our revered public institutions. Assange, who claims he did not get the DNC files from the Russians, is far more trustworthy than Clapper, and poses less of a danger to the Republic. Jeff Cox

  8. We should not be “idolizing” anyone. Men (and women) are only human, and subject to making mistakes of hypocrisy and mendacity because they are human. We need to focus on logic and facts, regardless of the messenger. What we are seeking is truth, not heroes.

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