FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Small Lies to Conceal Greater Lies

by CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI

“I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful manner, by saying no.”

— James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence in an interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell

The question: is the Lesser offender  or the Greater offender  the Greater )ffender? It depends on one’s perspective.  If the listener relies on spokesmen for the Greater (aka the government) then it is clear that the Lesser is the greater, if not indeed, the only offender.  If one considers the Constitution and listens to the non-governmental commentators, the answer is less clear.  It becomes even less clear when in its rush to condemn the Lesser, the Greater has been forced to acknowledge that it has lied and misrepresented things to those whom it governs.  The Greater uses bluster and strong words to convince the listener that all virtue is found in its corner and none in the corner of the Lesser.

The Greater is not content to rail against its citizens who question its motives.  They rail against foreign powers that fail to recognize the evils the Greater sees in the Lesser and threaten to jeopardize relations with those powers if they fail to accept the Greater’s demands with respect to Edward Snowden.  Edward Snowden is, of course, the man who has forced the United States government to come clean about its activities that invade the privacy of citizen and non-citizen alike. And Mr. Snowden has not only forced the United States government to admit that it has lied to its people, it has caused the government to make blustery pronouncements to foreign countries.  His actions have generated millions of words of commentary about the government’s actions.

In his daily briefing on June 24, White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, expressed the administration’s outrage that China had not arrested Mr. Snowden after he had been formally charged by the United States with three felonies. Mr. Carney said that letting Mr. Snowden leave China for Moscow would have “a negative impact on the U.S. China relationship.”  Mr. Carney failed to comment on the fact that Mr. Snowden’s disclosures have had a negative impact on the relationship many U.S. citizens have with their government.  On June 17, 2013, President Obama told Charlie Rose that the cyber-hacking of U.S. companies and government agencies by China that was disclosed in a report early in 2013, could lead to a deterioration of relations between the two powers.  He said that the Chinese understand “this can adversely affect the fundamentals of the US-China relationship.”  Those comments were made before the South China Morning Post reported that MR. Snowden said the NSA has hacked major telecommunication companies in China, attacked network backbones at Tsinghua University and hacked computers at the Hong Kong headquarters of Pacnet.

Thanks to Mr. Snowden we now know that the National Security Agency has lied to the Congress and to the American people about its surveillance activities. We might have learned about it many years ago but for the law that prohibits those who know the government may be breaking the law from telling the people they represent that their government is breaking the law.  As The Guardian reported, for at least two years Senators Mark Udall and Ron Wyden have been publicly stating that the U.S. government is relying on “secret legal interpretations” to claim surveillance powers that are so broad that Americans would be “stunned” were they to learn of them.  Since the violations of law were classified the Senators could not let their constituents know what they are.  In  a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder 2012 they said:  “We believe that most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] have interpreted section 215 of the Patriot Act.  As we see it, there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows.”

In a letter to Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of the National Security Agency, Sen. Udall accused the agency of providing false information in a fact sheet it gave members of Congress about its spying programs.   The letter says the fact sheet has “significant inaccuracies.”  Mr. Udall could not say what part of the fact sheet is inaccurate since that would “divulge classified information.”  However, Mr. Udall says, “In our judgment this inaccuracy is significant, as it portrays protections for American’s privacy as being significantly stronger than they actually are.  We urge you to correct this statement as soon as possible. (The Fact sheet was pulled by the agency.)

We now know that the NSA is collecting telephone call metadata on millions of Verizon customers.  That contradicts Gen. Alexander who told Fox News in 2012 that the agency “does not ‘hold data’ on U.S. citizens. In a speech at the Reuters Cybersecurity Summit he said:  “The great irony is we’re the only ones not spying on the American people.”  It was General Alexander who told Congress that over 50 Terrorist Plots were thwarted thanks to the programs that he and his colleagues said didn’t exist.  Citizens can decide for themselves whether or not to believe him.

What Senators Udall and Wyden thought citizens should know but could not disclose we now know.  Not because of our elected representatives but because of a man now charged as a criminal.  Go figure.

Christopher Brauchli is a lawyer living in Boulder, Colorado. He can be emailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
Julian Vigo
The Hijos of Buenos Aires:  When Identity is Political
Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano
By Way of Prologue: On How We Arrived at the Watchtower and What We Saw from There
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix the ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
Aidan O'Brien
Fidel and Spain: A Tale of Right and Wrong
Carol Dansereau
Stop Groveling! How to Thwart Trump and Save the World
Kim Nicolini
Moonlight, The Movie
Evan Jones
Behind GE’s Takeover of Alstom Energy
James A Haught
White Evangelicals are Fading, Powerful, Baffling
Barbara Moroncini
Protests and Their Others
Joseph Natoli
The Winds at Their Backs
Cesar Chelala
Poverty is Not Only an Ignored Word
David Swanson
75 Years of Pearl Harbor Lies
Alex Jensen
The Great Deceleration
Nyla Ali Khan
When Faith is the Legacy of One’s Upbringing
Gilbert Mercier
Trump Win: Paradigm Shift or Status Quo?
Stephen Martin
From ‘Too Big to Fail’ to ‘Too Big to Lie’: the End Game of Corporatist Globalization.
Charles R. Larson
Review: Emma Jane Kirby’s “The Optician of Lampedusa”
David Yearsley
Haydn Seek With Hsu
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail