Video: Did the NSA director lie to Congress?

posted at 12:01 pm on June 7, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

First off, let’s marvel at the unexpected genius of Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), who turns out to be Congress’ most adept perjury-trap specialist, perhaps of all time. Recall that it was Johnson’s gentle and friendly softball question on May 15th that ended up encouraging Eric Holder to categorically deny that he’d ever heard or or been involved in the potential prosecution of a reporter under the Espionage Act of 1917 … eight days before the warrant he personally approved making that argument in 2010 surfaced.  In an exchange from March 2012, Johnson had an opportunity to question NSA Director Keith Alexander about precisely the kind of concerns that the exposé of PRISM confirms — that the signals intel agency can spy on content coming through American Internet servers.

Forbes’ Andy Greenberg points out Alexander’s categorical denials that appear to be false testimony by yet another high-ranking Obama administration official:

In a congressional hearing in March of last year, for instance, NSA Director Keith Alexander was questioned about a Wired magazine cover story that included on-the-record interviews with multiple ex-NSA officials describing the agency’s collection of Americans’ voice and digital information. Speaking to Representative Hank Johnson, Alexander responded 14 times that the agency doesn’t collect the kind of domestic data Bamford had alleged.

Here’s a sample of that questioning:

Rep. Johnson: Does the NSA intercept Americans’ cell phone conversations?

Director Alexander: No.

Google searches?

No.

Text messages?

No.

Amazon.com orders?

No.

Bank records?

No.

What judicial consent is required for NSA to intercept communications and information involving American citizens?

Within the United States, that would be the FBI lead. If it were a foreign actor in the United States, the FBI would still have to lead. It could work that with NSA or other intelligence agencies as authorized. But to conduct that kind of collection in the United States it would have to go through a court order, and the court would have to authorize it. We’re not authorized to do it, nor do we do it.

The excerpt doesn’t include this, but Alexander categorically denied more than once in this clip that NSA even had the capability to conduct surveillance in the manner Wired reported, and that PRISM apparently confirms.  Perhaps Alexander didn’t want to spill the beans in open testimony, but the proper answer would have been, “I don’t want to discuss our capabilities in open session, but I’d be glad to address your concerns in a classified briefing.”  That would have raised eyebrows immediately — as it did yesterday with Eric Holder — but would have avoided perjury.

Forbes also has the video of DNI James Clapper’s suddenly-questionable testimony this year:

Sen. Wyden: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?

Director Clapper: No sir.

It does not.

Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertantly perhaps collect, but not wittingly.

I’d like to see how the NSA squares this testimony with the exposure of PRISM. I’d guess that Senator Wyden and other members of Congress would as well.

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Perjury is becoming a feature, not a bug, with this administration.

Resist We Much on June 7, 2013 at 12:05 PM

Did the NSA director lie to Congress?

Why yes, yes he did.

What difference does it make.

BacaDog on June 7, 2013 at 12:06 PM

I wonder what sorts of warrents for information were generated after DHS head, Janet Napalitino, put out the memo to treat the Tea Party like terrorists?

Freddy on June 7, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Depends on what your definition of “intercept” is?

I suspect that the NSA has an entire guide book defining the meaning of “intercept” versus “collect” versus “monitor”, etc.

Robert_Paulson on June 7, 2013 at 12:07 PM

The NSA does not ‘intercept’ them.

faraway on June 7, 2013 at 12:07 PM

I’m not diggin’ this fundamental change stuff.

BobMbx on June 7, 2013 at 12:08 PM

I believe him. I believe NSA targeted communications among or with FOREIGNERS, not domestic communications between citizens.

crosspatch on June 7, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Perjury is becoming a feature, not a bug, with this administration.

Resist We Much on June 7, 2013 at 12:05 PM

We lie, so you can feel free.

~Feds

BobMbx on June 7, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Obama promised he would fundamentally change America. We know now his model of perfection was East Germany.

meci on June 7, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Wow. Who knew Hank “Guam is Tipping Over!” Johnson was one of our best tools for getting people in this administration to lie under oath? Makes me wonder if maybe Admiral Robert F. Willard was lying when he said Guam wasn’t tipping over…

NotCoach on June 7, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Ed, I’d like for Congress to bring back people (I know Petraeus is gone, but they can still question others) and ask them about this stuff:

CIA Chief: We’ll Spy on You Through Your Dishwasher, TV Remote, SmartMeter

I think people have a right to know if this type of information is being collected or if the government plans to collect it in the future. Surely, the government doesn’t intend to make the ‘no expectation of privacy’ argument in this area. If it does, there is going to be a revolt (I think that you would agree so please don’t ban me:-)).

Resist We Much on June 7, 2013 at 12:10 PM

He can’t give straight and direct answers.

seven on June 7, 2013 at 12:11 PM

I believe him. I believe NSA targeted communications among or with FOREIGNERS, not domestic communications between citizens.

crosspatch on June 7, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Apply Occams Razor, please.

BobMbx on June 7, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Leno: “When I Was Growing Up, We Were Always Afraid Of Big Brother Watching Us. And Now With Obama, We Actually Have A Brother Watching Us”

J_Crater on June 7, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Perjury is becoming a feature, not a bug, with this administration.

Resist We Much on June 7, 2013 at 12:05 PM

Proficiency in lying and the willingness to do so are considered attributes in this administration.

antipc on June 7, 2013 at 12:13 PM

He’s on TV lying again. Make it stop, please.

esr1951 on June 7, 2013 at 12:13 PM

The spokesspook for NSA is certainly going to be working hard today.

Happy Nomad on June 7, 2013 at 12:14 PM

I believe him. I believe NSA targeted communications among or with FOREIGNERS, not domestic communications between citizens.

crosspatch on June 7, 2013 at 12:08 PM

I wonder if they had any “groups”, “study people” or other personnel form up to study all the “right wing terrorist” veterans returning from Iraq or other places which posed such a threat to liberty? Well, when the DHS director blows the dog whistle…

And it goes without saying that if you offend one of the politically connected elite, as I did, you get all kinds of attention.

IlikedAUH2O on June 7, 2013 at 12:15 PM

He’s on TV lying again. Make it stop, please.

esr1951 on June 7, 2013 at 12:13 PM

Which he? There is more than one liar in the news today.

Happy Nomad on June 7, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Don’t blame me….Congress has known about these programs since 2006….no one is listening to your phone calls
-dear leader

cmsinaz on June 7, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Perjury is becoming a feature, not a bug, with this administration.

Resist We Much on June 7, 2013 at 12:05 PM

Yup, these are resume enhancers as Rush says.

Nothing is going to happen to anyone. We might see someone get ‘reassigned’ but it will be from room 452 to 345.

LaughterJones on June 7, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Let me be clear

cmsinaz on June 7, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Hank Johnson: perfect example of a stopped watch being right twice a day.

cornbred on June 7, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Oh, the irony of Hank Johnson…

d1carter on June 7, 2013 at 12:17 PM

Don’t blame me….Congress has known about these programs since 2006….no one is listening to your phone calls
-dear leader

cmsinaz on June 7, 2013 at 12:15 PM

They know what you did last summer…

Liam on June 7, 2013 at 12:17 PM

Does not apply to people living in the US…re :internet

Congress authorized these programs
-dear leader

cmsinaz on June 7, 2013 at 12:18 PM

Crazed right wing war heroes?

And they couldn’t spend all this coin keeping vets from putting skull fragments and brains on ceilings.

IlikedAUH2O on June 7, 2013 at 12:18 PM

I believe that Liam
:)

cmsinaz on June 7, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Perjury is becoming a feature, not a bug, with this administration.

Resist We Much on June 7, 2013 at 12:05 PM

I have to wonder if the REB has issued a secret Executive Order making it legal to lie to Congress.

slickwillie2001 on June 7, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Hank Johnson proves God will use even idiots for his divine purposes…Because God is the enemy of Darkness.

Guam hasn’t tipped over Hank…But Il Duce has tipped his fascist hand

workingclass artist on June 7, 2013 at 12:20 PM

I believe him. I believe NSA targeted communications among or with FOREIGNERS, not domestic communications between citizens.

crosspatch on June 7, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Er, no. The warrant included WHOLLY DOMESTIC communications.

Resist We Much on June 7, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Their own , brain matter and blood. I mean.

IlikedAUH2O on June 7, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Trade offs involved

Came in with a healthy skepticism of these programs

Modest encroachments

-dear leader

cmsinaz on June 7, 2013 at 12:20 PM

One word describes the govt:
.
.
.
.
LIARS

Scrumpy on June 7, 2013 at 12:21 PM

Strict supervision under all 3 branches

cmsinaz on June 7, 2013 at 12:21 PM

I see no perjury here:

Rep. Johnson: Does the NSA intercept Americans’ cell phone conversations?
Director Alexander: No.

No, of course not–the phone companies do the intercepting and then hand the compiled results over to the NSA.

Google searches?
No.

Same deal–Google does that for them.

Fabozz on June 7, 2013 at 12:21 PM

Strict supervision under all 3 branches

cmsinaz on June 7, 2013 at 12:21 PM

2 words:
.
.
.
GUT IT

Scrumpy on June 7, 2013 at 12:22 PM

Guam is about to capsize.

rbj on June 7, 2013 at 12:23 PM

I have to wonder if the REB has issued a secret Executive Order making it legal to lie to Congress.

slickwillie2001 on June 7, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Such would not be legal. An EO cannot OVERRIDE the Constitution or Federal law. See: Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company, et al. v Sawyer.

Yes, I am aware of the directives to ignore laws like immigration and DOMA, but their legality is dubious and, in the case of the DREAM EO, at least one Federal judge has ruled it is unconstitutional.

Resist We Much on June 7, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Old and tired: Liberalism

New and awesome: Liarism

hillsoftx on June 7, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Is the scumbag POS still yapping?

VegasRick on June 7, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Guam is about to capsize.

rbj on June 7, 2013 at 12:23 PM

pic…

Greetings From Guam!

Resist We Much on June 7, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Hes still debating with himself

cmsinaz on June 7, 2013 at 12:27 PM

OBAMA Live:

“Trust me”

BobMbx on June 7, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Nothing is going to happen to anyone. We might see someone get ‘reassigned’ but it will be from room 452 to 345.

LaughterJones on June 7, 2013 at 12:15 PM

They deserve to be reassigned to Room 101, with the ‘rats.

Steve Z on June 7, 2013 at 12:29 PM

As I mentioned on another thread, imagine a neighbor who doesn’t like you that works for the government and has a high-enough clearance. They can access your private information and start a gossip chain if they wanted.

Liam on June 7, 2013 at 12:30 PM

Happy Nomad on June 7, 2013 at 12:15 PM

LOL. I need a score card.

esr1951 on June 7, 2013 at 12:32 PM

Il Duce blames Congress…

Hey…Ya’ll authorized it so…bite me!

workingclass artist on June 7, 2013 at 12:32 PM

Perhaps the general can be Eric Holder’s cell mate. Prison can be a lonely place.

bw222 on June 7, 2013 at 12:32 PM

I believe him. I believe NSA targeted communications among or with FOREIGNERS, not domestic communications between citizens.

crosspatch on June 7, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Don’t you know that ALL white people are to be defined as foreigners here now? Gag. I’m so damn sick of a regime that redefines words to suit their agendas and to ignore the laws. It really is the 1984 orwellian nightmare coming true.This is an entirely lawless regime now with no controlling legal authority to stop them.

Harbingeing on June 7, 2013 at 12:33 PM

Nothing is going to happen to anyone. We might see someone get ‘reassigned’ but it will be from roomcell 452 (common criminals) to cell 345 (maximum security).

LaughterJones on June 7, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Granted that would happen only in a parellel universe.

jimver on June 7, 2013 at 12:34 PM

“Well, if you’re going to make a big deal out of it… EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE!”

ghostwalker1 on June 7, 2013 at 12:35 PM

I read somewhere that the POS strategy is counting on Chicago-style politics to completely confuse and disorient the country. With so many scandals all hitting all at once the hope is the people will just give up, like they have in the Windy City.

I’m beginning to think that theory has merit.

wyntre on June 7, 2013 at 12:36 PM

Such would not be legal. An EO cannot OVERRIDE the Constitution or Federal law. See: Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company, et al. v Sawyer.

Yes, I am aware of the directives to ignore laws like immigration and DOMA, but their legality is dubious and, in the case of the DREAM EO, at least one Federal judge has ruled it is unconstitutional.

Resist We Much on June 7, 2013 at 12:23 PM

AHAAA – but maybe he signed a prior EO that makes it legal for him make illegal EOs…..
Or basically – your point is deemed invalid since this administration believes it is already above the the law – therefore nothing they do is illegal.

dentarthurdent on June 7, 2013 at 12:36 PM

First off, let’s marvel at the unexpected genius of Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), who turns out to be Congress’ most adept perjury-trap specialist, perhaps of all time.

No one, no how, saw that coming. No way !

Can’t wait for the next time this man asks a question.

Jabberwock on June 7, 2013 at 12:38 PM

“I’d like to see how the NSA squares this testimony with the exposure of PRISM.”

Kind of makes you wonder what is really going on…

… doesn’t it?

“The attack in Benghazi was a result of YouTube video.”

Seven Percent Solution on June 7, 2013 at 12:39 PM

The motto of the Obama Administration – Lie, then deny!

EdmundBurke247 on June 7, 2013 at 12:40 PM

Leave it to this clusterfark of an administration to make the term “Nixonian” seem trivial compared to what they’re doing now.

Bitter Clinger on June 7, 2013 at 12:41 PM

It’s gotten to the point where anything they say, just believe the opposite. They could say the sky is blue and I wouldn’t believe them.

Bitter Clinger on June 7, 2013 at 12:43 PM

Is the scumbag POS still yapping?

VegasRick on June 7, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Funny you should ask:-)

http://nation.foxnews.com/2013/06/07/%E2%80%9Cuhhh%E2%80%A6uh%E2%80%A6uhhh%E2%80%A6people%E2%80%9D-obama-total-loss-words-when-staff-forgets-his-speech

bluefox on June 7, 2013 at 12:44 PM

My dissemble-meter is going off:

Alexander categorically denied more than once in this clip that NSA even had the capability to conduct surveillance in the manner Wired reported

Alexander is being all-too-careful to use the phrase “in the United States” to modify the word “capability”. He avoids the discussing the possibility of the NSA having that capability based outside US borders, or relying on others to provide that capability.

Fabozz on June 7, 2013 at 12:21 PM

Looks like your meter is going off, too!

topdog on June 7, 2013 at 12:47 PM

The PRISM collective is Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, & Apple. They were all major contributors to the Obama campaign. Very few of their staff supported Romney.

Did the NSA listen in on Romney Campaign phone calls? Did the NSA monitor the Romney Campaign’s use of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple through PRISM.

Did they share that info with White House?

No?

Prove it.

We may have the first stolen Presidential Election in US History.

May God Save the Republic.

patch on June 7, 2013 at 12:48 PM

Only thing that will happen is that they will carve the likeness of Obama a little bit further to the left at Mt. Rushmore…

…because Obama is “Awesome!”

albill on June 7, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Prove it.

patch on June 7, 2013 at 12:48 PM

Can’t prove a negative.

We may have the first stolen Presidential Election in US History.

Election of 1824 and maybe the election of 1876.

NotCoach on June 7, 2013 at 12:51 PM

When even the softball questions are catching liars, you know that the entire thing, top to bottom, is full of them. It isn’t about one bad apple… it’s about the stench coming from the barrel of apples and the bugs and vermin it attracts.

ajacksonian on June 7, 2013 at 12:55 PM

Okay, so we’ve pretty much proved perjury in multiple instances…

So what?

Do you think Congress is going to impeach anybody? Have anyone arrested? Do anything that results in any sort of consequences, or even results in any changes to the practices?

No.

So, who cares?

Shump on June 7, 2013 at 1:01 PM

the NSA lying to Congress? Wow who would’ve thunk it….

libfreeordie on June 7, 2013 at 1:12 PM

So they meant to run surveillance on foreigners, but may have accidently picked up some chatter from domestic groups? I wonder what % of the accidentally intercepted domestic communication came from conservative and libertarian groups?

bitsy on June 7, 2013 at 1:17 PM

I believe him. I believe NSA targeted communications among or with FOREIGNERS, not domestic communications between citizens.

crosspatch on June 7, 2013 at 12:08 PM

With an open unsecured border what’s the difference? As far as the ruling elite thinks we are all foreigners.

the concept of citizenship means nothing to those in DC ruling from on high.

unseen on June 7, 2013 at 1:18 PM

en. Wyden: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?

Director Clapper: No sir.

Parse it:
No, the NSA does not ‘collect’ this data. Google, Facebook, etc. collect it, and send it to the NSA.
The NSA analyzes it.

This is where we’ve come to after allowing a President to re-define the words “sex” and “is”.

Dexter_Alarius on June 7, 2013 at 1:25 PM

I’d like to point out that this is now the second article in a single day on Hotair asking if someone high up in the administration perjured themselves. These scandals are really getting out of control.

vegconservative on June 7, 2013 at 1:42 PM

the NSA lying to Congress? Wow who would’ve thunk it….

libfreeordie on June 7, 2013 at 1:12 PM

The New York Times and the Washington Post both calling this “surveillance”? Wow who would’ve thunk it….

2006:

NYT:

Bush Defends Spy Program and Denies Misleading Public

WaPo:

Bush Authorized Domestic Spying

Thanks for playing!

Del Dolemonte on June 7, 2013 at 1:42 PM

Looks like everyone is lying under oath these days. What are we going to do about it? So far: chirp, chirp.

Amazingoly on June 7, 2013 at 1:58 PM

Election of 1824 and maybe the election of 1876.

NotCoach on June 7, 2013 at 12:51 PM

don’t need to go back that far election of 1960 is a case example of a stolen election.

unseen on June 7, 2013 at 2:27 PM

A lot of granstanding going on that may be regretted when the fab team that Schmidt inserted into Obama land is checked out for how much of the Big Data harvest originated in classified data bases.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-05-30/googles-eric-schmidt-invests-in-obamas-big-data-brains

We already know about the inability of this adminstration to separate electionneering from legitimate use of government power.

faxforsen on June 7, 2013 at 2:41 PM

It’s time for you knowing nothings to stop this “he lied” BS.

Once again I have to tell you that in open session the proper response to a question by a member that is specific is to say an untruth. Everybody and his mother knows that an evasive answer to a question gives the game away. Over the course of my career I have lied to superiors and subordinates, my wife, who has the same clearances I used to carry, and congressional staffers outside of a closed hearing. It is what you have to do. Often members with an axe to grind, and both parties do it, will ask a question in a public session knowing full well that the witness is going have to lie about it. It’s a game of “gotcha” that I do not like.

The only question that is relevant is did Clapper and Alexander disavow knowledge of this program in a closed session with staffers and/or members. That is the lie and not what they say in public hearing. So I say to you crybabies unless you have been there sit down and shut up.

jerryofva on June 7, 2013 at 2:45 PM

don’t need to go back that far election of 1960 is a case example of a stolen election.

unseen on June 7, 2013 at 2:27 PM

Maybe. There are strong indications it was, but I’m not willing to concede with certainty that it was.

NotCoach on June 7, 2013 at 3:04 PM

It was just a couple rogue low level NSA operatives who designed PRISM and build a multibillion dollar data center in Nevada. The NSA is so big, how can the director know what is going on in every single multibillion dollar data center?

tdarrington on June 7, 2013 at 4:23 PM

jerryofva on June 7, 2013 at 2:45 PM

Was it a Congressional hearing?
Was the witness under oath?
Could he have answered “I am unable to answer in an open session”

He lied, under oath, end of story.

tdarrington on June 7, 2013 at 4:28 PM

It’s time for you knowing nothings to stop this “he lied” BS.

Once again I have to tell you that in open session the proper response to a question by a member that is specific is to say an untruth. Everybody and his mother knows that an evasive answer to a question gives the game away. Over the course of my career I have lied to superiors and subordinates, my wife, who has the same clearances I used to carry, and congressional staffers outside of a closed hearing. It is what you have to do. Often members with an axe to grind, and both parties do it, will ask a question in a public session knowing full well that the witness is going have to lie about it. It’s a game of “gotcha” that I do not like.

The only question that is relevant is did Clapper and Alexander disavow knowledge of this program in a closed session with staffers and/or members. That is the lie and not what they say in public hearing. So I say to you crybabies unless you have been there sit down and shut up.

jerryofva on June 7, 2013 at 2:45 PM

So they’re required to outright lie UNDER OATH? Interesting.

Can you please point me to where, in the law, it is legal to lie under oath if the information you’re falsely claiming is untrue is classified?

I wasn’t aware that there was a loophole for perjury… can you show me where that loophole exists?

Or is the law also classified so those without clearance won’t know what the law actually is and what is or is not legal? Naah, that’d just be silly.

Please show me the “I know classified information” loophole for perjury.

gekkobear on June 7, 2013 at 5:53 PM