The intelligence bureaucracies in America are not forthcoming with information regarding domestic surveillance on the American people. We have seen this time and time again and it creates a problem. Congress is the body that keeps secret executive branch agencies accountable. Yet, many of these intelligence agencies take the “we know best” view in communicating with Congress. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) have encountered this culture recently.
In March of this year, at a hearing of the Senate intelligence committee, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), asked James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
Clapper responded, “No sir . . .”
Clapper lied. (The NSA does exactly that.) Under oath to Congress. Yet, he will not be prosecuted under federal perjury statutes.
As we stated earlier this week, here:
the government does collect data on millions and hundreds of millions of Americans. Actually, they do it through multiple programs and with regularity on a unimaginably broad scale. Clapper was provided the questions in advance and he still failed to answer correctly. He intentionally misled the committee. Clapper has now recanted his earlier statement (after the truth was conclusively presented in the media).
But a bureaucrat has lied, under oath, to the face of his superior, the representative of the people, that he works at the pleasure of. If prosecuted, it could prove difficult to show beyond a reasonable doubt that Clapper had knowledge of the programs and intentionally covered them up, but I doubt it. If Congress cannot control Clapper, then who will?
Congress should initiate an investigation of Mr. Clapper to pursue a potential perjury charge for lying under oath to the American people.