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

More articles by:

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

November 20, 2017
T.J. Coles
Doomsday Scenarios: the UK’s Hair-Raising Admissions About the Prospect of Nuclear War and Accident
Peter Linebaugh
On the 800th Anniversary of the Charter of the Forest
Patrick Bond
Zimbabwe Witnessing an Elite Transition as Economic Meltdown Looms
Sheldon Richman
Assertions, Facts and CNN
Ben Debney
Plebiscites: Why Stop at One?
LV Filson
Yemen’s Collective Starvation: Where Money Can’t Buy Food, Water or Medicine
Thomas Knapp
Impeachment Theater, 2017 Edition
Binoy Kampmark
Trump in Asia
Curtis FJ Doebbler
COP23: Truth Without Consequences?
Louisa Willcox
Obesity in Bears: Vital and Beautiful
Deborah James
E-Commerce and the WTO
Ann Garrison
Burundi Defies the Imperial Criminal Court: an Interview with John Philpot
Robert Koehler
Trapped in ‘a Man’s World’
Stephen Cooper
Wiping the Stain of Capital Punishment Clean
Weekend Edition
November 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Thank an Anti-War Veteran
Andrew Levine
What’s Wrong With Bible Thumpers Nowadays?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb
Wendy Wolfson – Ken Levy
Why We Need to Take Animal Cruelty Much More Seriously
Mike Whitney
Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators?
David Rosen
Of Sex Abusers and Sex Offenders
Ryan LaMothe
A Christian Nation?
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Finger on the Button: Why No President Should Have the Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons
W. T. Whitney
A Bizarre US Pretext for Military Intrusion in South America
Deepak Tripathi
Sex, Lies and Incompetence: Britain’s Ruling Establishment in Crisis 
Howard Lisnoff
Who You’re Likely to Meet (and Not Meet) on a College Campus Today
Roy Morrison
Trump’s Excellent Asian Adventure
John W. Whitehead
Financial Tyranny
Ted Rall
How Society Makes Victimhood a No-Win Proposition
Jim Goodman
Stop Pretending the Estate Tax has Anything to do With Family Farmers
Thomas Klikauer
The Populism of Germany’s New Nazis
Murray Dobbin
Is Trudeau Ready for a Middle East war?
Jeiddy Martínez Armas
Firearm Democracy
Jill Richardson
Washington’s War on Poor Grad Students
Ralph Nader
The Rule of Power Over the Rule of Law
Justin O'Hagan
Capitalism Equals Peace?
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: From the Red Sea to Nairobi
Geoff Dutton
The Company We Sadly Keep
Evan Jones
The Censorship of Jacques Sapir, French Dissident
Linn Washington Jr.
Meek Moment Triggers Demands for Justice Reform
Gerry Brown
TPP, Indo Pacific, QUAD: What’s Next to Contain China’s Rise?
Robert Fisk
The Exile of Saad Hariri
Romana Rubeo - Ramzy Baroud
Anti-BDS Laws and Pro-Israeli Parliament: Zionist Hasbara is Winning in Italy
Robert J. Burrowes
Why are Police in the USA so Terrified?
Chuck Collins
Stop Talking About ‘Winners and Losers’ From Corporate Tax Cuts
Ron Jacobs
Private Property Does Not Equal Freedom
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail