James Clapper preparing to lie to Congress
America’s chief intelligence officers have a longstanding history of untruthiness — testifying falsely and fearlessly…
The latest episode involves the testimony of the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, in March on the National Security Agency’s eavesdropping on Americans. The question to Clapper from the Senate Intelligence Committee was straightforward: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper simply answered: “No.”
Now, almost four months later, he concedes: “My response was clearly erroneous.” He corrected the record only after the metadata program was revealed by the meta-leaker Edward Snowden.
Clapper joins a grand tradition. Allen Dulles, the Cold War commander of the Central Intelligence Agency, was a champion at untruthiness…
Dulles went to a formal White House briefing for President Dwight Eisenhower on the CIA’s 1954 coup in Guatemala, in which the agency overthrew a freely elected president and installed a pliant pro-U.S. colonel named Carlos Castillo Armas. “How many men did Castillo Armas lose?” Ike asked. Only one, said the CIA’s briefer. “Incredible,” said the president.
At least 43 of Castillo Armas’s men had been killed. Dulles didn’t correct the record…
Richard Helms, director of central intelligence from 1966 to 1973, paid his own price. President Richard Nixon nominated him as ambassador to Iran. During the confirmation hearings on his appointment, Helms was asked, under oath, about the overthrow of President Salvador Allende of Chile. Did the CIA have anything to do with that? No, sir, Helms had answered. He eventually stood before a federal judge on a charge of a misdemeanor count of failing to tell Congress the whole truth.
William Casey, director of central intelligence from 1981 to 1987, was “guilty of contempt of Congress from the day he was sworn in,” said his deputy, Robert Gates, who later served as the agency’s director and as secretary of defense.
…The deceit spread downward from the director’s office; it led to the tragicomedy in which the White House and the CIA sold weapons to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and skimmed the profit to finance counterrevolutionaries in Central America.
George Tenet, director of central intelligence from 1997 to 2004, told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Sept. 17, 2002: “Iraq provided al-Qaeda with various kinds of training — combat, bomb-making, and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear.” He based that statement on the confessions of a fringe player in the global jihad who had been beaten, stuffed in a 2-foot-square box for 17 hours and threatened with prolonged torture.
The prisoner had recanted after the threat of torture receded. Tenet didn’t correct the record.
Not that our tradition of “transparency” in government varies much from the model standard used by our spies. The winning class action suit I participated in against the FBI in the 1970’s also included the regional phone company, elected officials of the city I lived in – and the local police department. They all lied. They all were found guilty.
Not until that brief period of courage when Congress – well, at least the committee headed by Frank Church – spoke out against intelligence agency corruption were changes even considered by the elected portion of Washington, DC. Now, don’t be surprised. Things are back to “normal”.