FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Small Lies to Conceal Greater Lies

“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:
Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail