FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

NSA Lies

by KEN KLIPPENSTEIN

James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, evoked Monet when, in fine impressionistic form, he said under oath that the NSA does “not wittingly” collect any kind of data on millions of Americans. As with 19th century Impressionism, the idea is not to portray the details of the subject, but its essence. Details include cumbersome specifics like facts and figures, which would only aggravate the public’s inexplicable mistrust of government; the essence, on the other hand, is much safer for consumption by the masses.

Not content to rest on his laurels, Clapper would try to push the boundaries of Impressionism when he later hedged that he’d answered in the “least most untruthful manner”. Incorporating elements of dark surrealism, he also said that Senator Wyden’s question—whether or not the NSA collects data on millions of Americans—was similar to asking, “are you going to stop beating your wife”? This is a “kind of question which is…not answerable necessarily, by a simple yes or no.”

Unfortunately, Clapper’s work has not aged well: 26 senators sent him a letter objecting to the use of what they called a “body of secret law”. Congresspeople have also called for his prosecution for criminal perjury. Yet, as with so many artists, Clapper is perhaps his own worst critic, having conceded that his statement that the NSA does “not wittingly” collect data on Americans was “clearly erroneous.”

Clapper has always refused to endorse any specific interpretation of his work, as evidenced by his defense of his “not wittingly” comment: “there are honest differences on the semantics…when someone says ‘collection’ to me, that has a specific meaning, which may have a different meaning to him.”

In the modern art wing, we have Obama’s brilliantly nonsensical, Dadaist argument that Snowden isn’t a patriot because, among other equally schizophrenic reasons, “he is convicted of three felonies.” This is a leitmotif pervading Obama’s work: equating illegal with immoral. He notably employed this technique when asked about Bradley Manning, saying that “He broke the law.” (Scholars are trying to reconcile this technique with Obama’s professed admiration of MLK, Jr., who famously remarked that “I disobeyed an unjust law.”)

And then there’s chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Dianne Feinstein. Prominent among Dianne Feinstein’s work is her thunderingly indignant defense of the NSA: “It’s called protecting America.” This piece recalls the German Romanticism movement; in particular, the movement’s recurring invocation of importance of The Volk and the need to protect them. Just weeks after Snowden’s leak, Dianne Feinstein unveiled her magnum opus: a call for legislation that would narrow the definition of what a journalist is. One criterion would be that only salaried journalists could enjoy the legal privileges conferred on the press. Her motivation for this piece arose from concern that “those who are not reporters at all” are enjoying “special privilege”. Feinstein’s performance is being widely hailed by critics as an epochal moment in German Romanticism, reminiscent of the spine tingling, ultranationalist ballads of the Third Reich.

Ken Klippenstein lives in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, where he co-edits the left issues journal, whiterosereader.org He can be reached at Reader246@gmail.com

Ken Klippenstein is an American journalist who can be reached on Twitter @kenklippenstein or by email: kenneth.klippenstein@gmail.com

More articles by:
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
Jeffrey St. Clair
Night of the Hollow Men: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Renee Parsons
Blame It on the Russians
Herbert Dyer, Jr.
Is it the Cops or the Cameras? Putting Police Brutality in Historical Context
Russell Mokhiber
Dems Dropping the N Word: When in Trouble, Blame Ralph
Howard Lisnoff
The Elephant in the Living Room
Pepe Escobar
The Real Secret of the South China Sea
Ramzy Baroud
Farewell to Yarmouk: A Palestinian Refugee’s Journey from Izmir to Greece
John Laforge
Wild Turkey with H-Bombs: Failed Coup Raise Calls for Denuclearization
Dave Lindorff
Moving Beyond the Sanders Campaign
Jill Richardson
There’s No Such Thing as a “Free Market”
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan Moves Against the Gulen Movement in Turkey
Winslow Myers
Beyond Drift
Edward Martin - Mateo Pimentel
Who Are The Real Pariahs This Election?
Jan Oberg
The Clintons Celebrated, But Likely a Disaster for the Rest of the World
Johnny Gaunt
Brexit: the British Working Class has Just Yawned Awake
Mark Weisbrot
Attacking Trump for the Few Sensible Things He Says is Both Bad Politics and Bad Strategy
Thomas Knapp
Election 2016: Think Three’s a Crowd? Try 2,000
Corrine Fletcher
White Silence is Violence: How to be a White Accomplice
July 27, 2016
Richard Moser
The Party’s Over
M. G. Piety
Smoke and Mirrors in Philadelphia
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Humiliation Games: Notes on the Democratic Convention
Arun Gupta
Bernie Sanders’ Political Revolution Splinters Apart
John Eskow
The Loneliness of the American Leftist
Guillermo R. Gil
A Metaphoric Short Circuit: On Michelle Obama’s Speech at the DNC
Norman Pollack
Sanders, Our Tony Blair: A Defamation of Socialism
Claire Rater, Carol Spiegel and Jim Goodman
Consumers Can Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics on Factory Farms
Guy D. Nave
Make America Great Again?
Sam Husseini
Why Sarah Silverman is a Comedienne
Dave Lindorff
No Crooked Sociopaths in the White House
Dan Bacher
The Hired Gun: Jerry Brown Snags Bruce Babbitt as New Point Man For Delta Tunnels
Peter Lee
Trumputin! And the DNC Leak(s)
David Macaray
Interns Are Exploited and Discriminated Against
Brett Warnke
Storm Clouds Over Philly
Ann Garrison
Rwanda, the Clinton Dynasty, and the Case of Dr. Léopold Munyakazi
Chris Zinda
Snakes of Deseret
July 26, 2016
Andrew Levine
Pillory Hillary Now
Kshama Sawant
A Call to Action: Walk Out from the Democratic National Convention!
Russell Mokhiber
The Rabble Rise Together Against Bernie, Barney, Elizabeth and Hillary
Jeffrey St. Clair
Don’t Cry For Me, DNC: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Angie Beeman
Why Doesn’t Middle America Trust Hillary? She Thinks She’s Better Than Us and We Know It
Paul Street
An Update on the Hate…
Fran Shor
Beyond Trump vs Clinton
Ellen Brown
Japan’s “Helicopter Money” Play: Road to Hyperinflation or Cure for Debt Deflation?
Richard W. Behan
The Banana Republic of America: Democracy Be Damned
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail