The most truth he could tell was a lie and that was not his fault…

james_clapper2James Clapper, director of national intelligence, responded in an open hearing to Senator Ron Wyden’s question about broad-based collection of Americans’ private information by the NSA by saying that no such collection was being done.  Subsequently we learned that wasn’t true and that Clapper knew he would be asked.  Some believe he should be prosecuted for lying to Congress; he has apologized and characterized his response as “the least untruthful” he could make in the circumstances.  Much as I dislike what the NSA is doing and applaud, mutedly since he has a constitutional right to say what he wishes on the Senate floor and has not used it, Senator Wyden’s persistence in pointing to intelligence service activities which run contrary to how I understood the law and constitution to require them to be conducted, I stand with Clapper here.

Clapper told the most truth he could which was a lie!

James Clapper was testifying in a public hearing and was asked a question the truthful answer to which was classified.  He simply could not answer truthfully in that forum.  Senator Wyden’s having notified him in advance  that he would ask it did not relieve him of his responsibility to conceal the classified answer.

Clapper and General Keith Alexander, director of the NSA, have, in my opinion, demonstrated at best a cavalier lack of concern for the civil liberties of their fellow citizens and followed up by aggressively defending themselves rather than giving serious heed to the policy questions raised by the revelations of the agencies’ activities.  I am disappointed in both.  Never the less, I do not wish to give them similar treatment; Clapper in this case ought never have been asked the question and having been asked, he could only answer as he did.

At this time in our history only the most scrupulous judgements will benefit us long-term.  Attempting to “call-out” Clapper served no public interest.

Just More Outrageous Bi-Partisan Agreement: “CIA nominee John Brennan to face tough questions in Senate” – latimes.com

Just note that the headline might lead you to think he was going to have a rough time being confirmed but that is not what it says, nor what it means.

In effect, it means that (1) a few senators exercised over his not having paid them due deference by reading a report he plans to ignore before meeting with them, (2) a few more concerned about killing citizens abroad without according them their rights and explaining themselves, and (3) a few worried about leaks (not worried about why there aren’t more and why so many resources are applied to finding them unless they favor the administration, but about why there are any that do favor the administration).

And it means he will get through the hearing and confirmation this time despite significant opposition leading to his withdrawing his name from consideration last time for the questions his prior conduct had raised.  Now, after compounding his earlier sins and presumably his rationalization skills, he can expect confirmation.

After all, we all agree that torture and unconstitutional intrusions on individual rights are acceptable, don’t we?

CIA nominee John Brennan to face tough questions in Senate – latimes.com.