Obama taps Clapper to investigate NSA practices

posted at 9:21 am on August 13, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama wants to assure the American people that he wants an national debate about domestic surveillance, and an honest accounting about and reform of the NSA’s activities.  In order to get all of this accomplished, Obama has appointed Director of National Intelligence James Clapper — the man who misled Congress during direct testimony on all of the above — to lead an investigation into the NSA and its surveillance activities.  How’s that for a confidence builder?

Whatever the accuracy of the claims of former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Snowden and Greenwald, the columnist through whom he’s carried out most of his leaks over the past few months, the storm of outrage over allegations that NSA intelligence collection frequently targets the phone calls and emails of US citizens has gotten the attention of President Barack Obama.

Today, Obama ordered Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to name an outside panel to review the United State’s global collection of signals intelligence - meaning its efforts to target phone calls, internet messages, and various forms of electronic communication.

While the letter appears to focus on the risk of leaks and counter-intelligence by enemies, more than on concerns that the Constitution is being violated by NSA dragnets, it’s clear that Obama is worried about the backlash.

Not worried enough, though.  The appointment of Clapper comes on the heels of the revelations that he lied to Congress at least once and possibly more often about the nature of the NSA’s surveillance programs, and that he wasn’t the only administration official to do so.  This follows the nothing-to-see-here-move-along strategy of “investigations” in the Obama administration, in which the fox investigates the henhouse and finds no crime has been committed.  The DoJ is currently employing that strategy with its subsidiary DEA on the same issue of warrantless surveillance on Americans, so why not Clapper with the NSA, too?

Count Adam Serwer a skeptic from the Left, too:

Having Clapper lead the Review Group may seem like assigning the alpha fox to check IDs at the door to the hen house. During a Senate hearing in March, Clapper told Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden that the NSA did not collect Americans’ communications data at all. After former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked a court order to the press requesting data for millions of Verizon customers, Clapper admitted to having been “cute” with his response to Wyden.

Clapper’s announcement also places the Review Group’s priorities in a curious order. When Obama described the concept for the review group during a press conference last Friday, he said a group of “outside experts” would “consider how we can maintain the trust of the people, how we can make sure that there absolutely is no abuse in terms of how these surveillance technologies are used, ask how surveillance impacts our foreign policy, particularly in an age when more and more information is becoming public.”

With Obama, public trust was the first priority of the Review Group. Clapper’s announcement placed it last.

Congress should take the reins on this investigation itself.  Members from both parties have criticized the administration’s handling of the NSA issue — either the program itself or Obama’s defense of it — which means they have the motivation and the authority to establish their oversight rights and responsibilities.  If they were serious about that, though, the Senate has the means to force the program into the light with a nearly 40-year-old law intended to stop executive-branch abuse of power.  So far, though, the upper chamber hasn’t dusted off the law once since its passage:

Outspoken members of the Senate Intelligence Committee have said frequently that they wanted to warn the public about the National Security Agency’s sweeping collection of telephone records but the program’s highly classified nature prevented them from making public reference to the programs.

That, however, is not the full story. Buried in the pages of Senate Resolution 400, which established the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 1976, is a provision that allows them to try. Across those nearly 40 years, it’s never been used.

The committee’s failure to make use of the provision even once, critics say, underscores a problem with congressional oversight: Congress has proved unwilling to openly question the intelligence agencies’ claims that something must remain secret.

“Clearly, there are some secrets that the government should protect. So it’s serious business,” said former Democratic U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton, a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who co-chaired the government’s investigation of 9/11. “But . . . Congress has been, I think, far too deferential to the president in letting him control the classification system.”

The President sent Clapper to mislead Congress, and just appointed him to lead the investigation into th very topic on which he misled them.  If there was ever a time to stop being deferential to the President on matters of classification, we have arrived at it now.


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Clapper = The Liar’s liar

Resist We Much on August 13, 2013 at 9:23 AM

Wow. Hubris unchained.

HomeoftheBrave on August 13, 2013 at 9:24 AM

What are the odds that Clapper comes back and says the program is seriously flawed, probably illegal and totally ineffective?

Flange on August 13, 2013 at 9:25 AM

If you do NOT want to know how many chickens you have, let a fox count them.

Jabberwock on August 13, 2013 at 9:27 AM

SSDD

Chris of Rights on August 13, 2013 at 9:27 AM

Police: *KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK* Police! We have a warrant to search the premises for marijuana!

Obama: I just looked around. No *cough, cough* marijuana here officer! Me and my Choomster buddies are just having a Doritos party!

NotCoach on August 13, 2013 at 9:28 AM

What are the odds that Clapper comes back and says the program is seriously flawed, probably illegal and totally ineffective?

Flange on August 13, 2013 at 9:25 AM

Pretty slim, because he won’t ask any of those questions, or interview anyone who might know.

NotCoach on August 13, 2013 at 9:29 AM

Dear Liar has a habit of flipping a giant middle finger to any and all who might oppose him. This is just another in a long series.

rbj on August 13, 2013 at 9:29 AM

What are the odds that Clapper comes back and says the program is seriously flawed, probably illegal and totally ineffective?

Flange on August 13, 2013 at 9:25 AM

they’re pretty good if it is simultaneously coupled with a request for a massive budget increase….

ted c on August 13, 2013 at 9:31 AM

I’m tired of the buzz word ‘national debate’. All it means is that politicians and race hustlers talk (with megaphones) while the rest of us had damned well better listen and obey.

If this was a Republican presidency, the Dems would be screaming for a battery of special prosecutors.

Maybe along with the idea of defunding Obamacare, how about defunding the NSA and shutting down the entire organization? Make them turn of all those computers, turn out the lights, and all those spies go home.

Liam on August 13, 2013 at 9:31 AM

The deficit is at a 5 year low….why doesn’t Hot Air care?

libfreeordie on August 13, 2013 at 9:32 AM

“Obama taps clapper”…to start tapping

levi on August 13, 2013 at 9:32 AM

The deficit is at a 5 year low….why doesn’t Hot Air care?

libfreeordie on August 13, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Because it’s still estimated to be almost $700 billion by the CBO?

levi on August 13, 2013 at 9:35 AM

they’re pretty good if it is simultaneously coupled with a request for a massive budget increase….

ted c on August 13, 2013 at 9:31 AM

Crap, I was just joking, figuring that he do what NotCoach said, but you’re probably right.

Flange on August 13, 2013 at 9:36 AM

Obama has appointed Director of National Intelligence James Clapper — the man who misled Congress during direct testimony on all of the above — to lead an investigation into the NSA and its surveillance activities.

Misled? It that what we call lying ones ass off these days?

This is as big a farce as the 9/11 Commission, the State Department Review of Benghazi, or the DoJ investigation into Fast and Furious. The results are pre-ordained. Mistakes were made but they have been corrected….. at this point it does not matter.

Happy Nomad on August 13, 2013 at 9:37 AM

The deficit is at a 5 year low….why doesn’t Hot Air care?

libfreeordie on August 13, 2013 at 9:32 AM

When it gets down to $163 billion, which it was when Democrats took over in 2007, then I’ll consider it to be an achievement.

Resist We Much on August 13, 2013 at 9:38 AM

My impression of Clapper is that he isn’t a very bright man. I find it most strange that he is Director of National Intelligence, but perhaps he does make a good metaphor for Obama’s America.

thuja on August 13, 2013 at 9:38 AM

The deficit is at a 5 year low….why doesn’t Hot Air care?

libfreeordie on August 13, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Because that is as big a lie as any told by Clapper. But nice attempt to threadjack. We know why you people don’t want to talk about NSA spying.

Happy Nomad on August 13, 2013 at 9:39 AM

My impression of Clapper is that he isn’t a very bright man. I find it most strange that he is Director of National Intelligence, but perhaps he does make a good metaphor for Obama’s America.

thuja on August 13, 2013 at 9:38 AM

You don’t get to where Clapper got by being stupid. Which makes the lies and betrayal all the more offensive. He put politics ahead of this nation and that, IMO, makes him a traitor. He violated the trust the American people put in him. Only by his removal from public life can NSA and the Intel community begin to work on restoring the broken trust. Instead, the administration is trying to cover their asses by putting the criminals in charge of the investigation- again.

Happy Nomad on August 13, 2013 at 9:42 AM

Isn’t that like asking a Madam to investigate the claims of prostitution in her house?

oldernwiser on August 13, 2013 at 9:42 AM

Can you imagine how Dems would have reacted if Bush had put Rove in charge of the Valerie Plame affair? Really – we have entered new waters. Half this country is content to let their political ideology trump the laws of this country.

djl130 on August 13, 2013 at 9:42 AM

The deficit is at a 5 year low….why doesn’t Hot Air care?

libfreeordie on August 13, 2013 at 9:32 AM

If they do, this isn’t the thread for it.

By the way: Hi, Jack.

Liam on August 13, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Obama must use his pandering cronies and political stooges to investigate these issues because he knows letting an honest broker do the job would end his presidency.

rplat on August 13, 2013 at 9:45 AM

Yesterday was the best day of FOREVER for Toure and liveenslavedthendie.

Resist We Much on August 13, 2013 at 9:39 AM

Too funny but it hits on a pet peeve of mine. Why the informality of using the criminal’s first name? We don’t know the man well enough to be on a first name basis. I have the same objection for the same reason to all those reporters who have been using the CA teen kidnap victim’s first name.

Happy Nomad on August 13, 2013 at 9:45 AM

The deficit is at a 5 year low….why doesn’t Hot Air care?

this one doesn’t even realize how stupid benchmarking from the record high is, if it doesn’t hurt to be that dumb something’s wrong

DanMan on August 13, 2013 at 9:45 AM

The deficit is at a 5 year low….why doesn’t Hot Air care?

libfreeordie on August 13, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Maybe because we’ve seen the CBO’s Long Term Budget Outlook. Maybe you should take a look, too. The really sad things about it are a) it still uses static analysis, so it’s overly optimistic, b) the extended baseline scenario has economy destroying taxes (people just above the poverty line will be paying AMT), and c) the extended alternative scenario has economy destroying debt.

Chris of Rights on August 13, 2013 at 9:47 AM

Dear Liar has a habit of flipping a giant middle finger to any and all who might oppose him. This is just another in a long series.

rbj on August 13, 2013 at 9:29 AM

Didn’t Obama do the same thing with his Guns for Gangsters operation and with the IRS voter suppression scandal and the.. ?

Galt2009 on August 13, 2013 at 9:48 AM

libfreeordie on August 13, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Do you approve of Obama’s Police State?

Galt2009 on August 13, 2013 at 9:49 AM

Harry won’t do squat……another blame the gop issue to deflect in 5….4….3…

cmsinaz on August 13, 2013 at 9:49 AM

Harry won’t do squat……another blame the gop issue to deflect in 5….4….3…

cmsinaz on August 13, 2013 at 9:49 AM

Why wait? We already have a troll trying to change the subject and hijack the thread. (Which is why I greeted with the pun, “Hi, Jack.”)

Liam on August 13, 2013 at 9:51 AM

The deficit is at a 5 year low….why doesn’t Hot Air care?

libfreeordie on August 13, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Lol. Back to zero hour of this administration primarily because of the sequester. Ain’t no propaganda stupid enough for a leftist like you, is there? In 2008 the federal deficit was $450 billion. Yet in 2013 it’s over $700 billion and you believe this is something to be proud of.

NotCoach on August 13, 2013 at 9:52 AM

The deficit is at a 5 year low….why doesn’t Hot Air care?

libfreeordie on August 13, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Yeah, the Sequester that Obama always gripes about and blames on Republicans is having some impact. More evidence that spending is indeed the problem.

Now let’s get back on the topic of the criminality of the Obama Campaign.

forest on August 13, 2013 at 9:54 AM

OMG! Unbelievable.

At least they don’t “wittingly” spy on millions of Americans.

freedomfirst on August 13, 2013 at 9:56 AM

The deficit is at a 5 year low The President (cough) appoints yet another liar and cover up artist to lead an investigation….why doesn’t Hot Air the MSM care?

libfreeordie on August 13, 2013 at 9:32 AM

antipc on August 13, 2013 at 9:56 AM

The deficit is at a 5 year low….why doesn’t Hot Air care?

libfreeordie on August 13, 2013 at 9:32 AM

5 year low still means near record highs. And one of the reasons it’s so “low” is because the federal government is making a killing in the housing market via loans from Fannie/Freddie. That’s going to last forever.

We’ve also got over 100 trillion in unfunded liabilities.

gwelf on August 13, 2013 at 9:57 AM

Lol. Back to zero hour of this administration primarily because of the sequester. Ain’t no propaganda stupid enough for a leftist like you, is there? In 2008 the federal deficit was $450 billion. Yet in 2013 it’s over $700 billion and you believe this is something to be proud of.

NotCoach on August 13, 2013 at 9:52 AM

Bam

gwelf on August 13, 2013 at 9:58 AM

Please ignore the troll. If you ignore it, it will go away. If you keep responding to it, it has succeeded in it’s mission.

Johnnyreb on August 13, 2013 at 9:58 AM

Just yesterday some statist was telling me I had no right to comment of the NSA because I was an ignorant plebe who should just lay back and trust the experts.

forest on August 13, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Don’t let ISSA investigate it…sheesh, anything he touches goes no where fast.

albill on August 13, 2013 at 10:02 AM

The Fourth Estate is at the heart of the decline of the Republic. The watchdogs have become the lapdogs.

senrex on August 13, 2013 at 10:05 AM

“Dr. Mengele we are appointing you to investigate possible concentration camp atrocities.”

MaiDee on August 13, 2013 at 10:06 AM

libfreeordie on August 13, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Do you approve of Obama’s Police State?

Galt2009 on August 13, 2013 at 10:07 AM

Corrupt media covers a corrupt administration…what’s the problem?

d1carter on August 13, 2013 at 10:08 AM

Let’s see how much coverage this will get from the Lapdogs:

http://www.breitbart.com/InstaBlog/2013/08/13/Visit-from-Feds-Has-Two-Email-Providers-Closing-Shop

senrex on August 13, 2013 at 10:08 AM

The deficit is at a 5 year low….why doesn’t Hot Air care?

libfreeordie on August 13, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Because spending nearly 700 billion more than you take in… instead of a trillion… is disgraceful and unsustainable?

Wendya on August 13, 2013 at 10:15 AM

You couldn’t make this level of stupidity up if you tried…………… The president is an idiot and should be impeached.

ultracon on August 13, 2013 at 10:22 AM

It’s like when he says he’ll have the Justice department look into something. You mean the ‘Holder’ Justice department? The one when confronted with armed New Black Panther Party goons menacing citizens at a voting booth the JD found nothing prosecution worthy?

Great, fears allayed…

CaptFlood on August 13, 2013 at 10:23 AM

Too funny but it hits on a pet peeve of mine. Why the informality of using the criminal’s first name? We don’t know the man well enough to be on a first name basis. I have the same objection for the same reason to all those reporters who have been using the CA teen kidnap victim’s first name.

Happy Nomad on August 13, 2013 at 9:45 AM

‘Whitey’ isn’t his first name. James is.

Resist We Much on August 13, 2013 at 10:26 AM

The deficit is at a 5 year low….why doesn’t Hot Air care?

libfreeordie on August 13, 2013 at 9:32 AM

The Labor Participation Rate is at an all time low…why don’t libtards care?

The rate of growth of the GDP is the lowest and flattest it’s been in over 30 years….why don’t libtards care?

The National Debt is at an astronomical all time high…why don’t libtards care?

Why do you crow about the deficit being at a 5 year low and rail about it’s cause, the sequester?

Madame Perfesser, looks like you need some schoolin’

NOMOBO on August 13, 2013 at 10:28 AM

You mean the ‘Holder’ Justice department? The one when confronted with armed New Black Panther Party goons menacing citizens at a voting booth the JD found nothing prosecution worthy?

CaptFlood on August 13, 2013 at 10:23 AM

It was worse than that. The NBPP had already conceded culpability, either by default or admission (I forget which). The case was already settled in the government’s favor and awaiting final judgement of penalty by the court.

What Holder then did was withdraw the government’s complaint, letting the BP off as if the case never existed.

Liam on August 13, 2013 at 10:29 AM

I wonder if Clapper will consult with Holder for some tips on conducting an objective and thourough investigation?

NOMOBO on August 13, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Why the informality of using the criminal’s first name? We don’t know the man well enough to be on a first name basis.

Happy Nomad on August 13, 2013 at 9:45 AM

Some of us prefer to type “Barack” rather than “Obama”. We figure you still know who we’re talking about.

Ohhhh..you were talking about someone else. My mistake.

Chris of Rights on August 13, 2013 at 10:37 AM

Madame Perfesser, looks like you need some schoolin’

NOMOBO on August 13, 2013 at 10:28 AM

Yeah!
Meanwhile, didn’t Brak or one of his minions say something to the effect that the deficit didn’t matter? If not, then again, why crow about “reducing” it? If it doesn’t matter, then reducing it’s a nothing-burger.

Good lord. I will never make a personal loan to a liberal if they think like LFOD. Well, if I did, it would carry a high interest rate and it would be secured with unencumbered collateral.

freedomfirst on August 13, 2013 at 11:05 AM

The Honorable camera whore Juan McStain have anything to say about this? My Friends? Multiple million man march to run all the foggies and the lyin king and court out of town yet? let me know when I’m in!

ConcealedKerry on August 13, 2013 at 11:12 AM

I suppose Holder is too busy investigating himself and the DoJ for their own illegal acts….

Where’s the GOP Congressional Leadership?

If anything requires a massive hue and cry from the timid simpletons, this is example 245,312 offered by this Administration.

Where is the demand for Clapper to be held in contempt of Congress for his perjury?

Frankly, this is just flip of the bird to Congress and the American people by the narcissist-in-chief – knowing full well that the Democrats will tow the line and with pinheads like Graham and McCain in the GOP – they will do nothing either.

Athos on August 13, 2013 at 11:21 AM

Comical. And criminal.

Midas on August 13, 2013 at 11:37 AM

No conflict of interest there…..huh.

kjatexas on August 13, 2013 at 11:37 AM

The deficit is at a 5 year low….why doesn’t Hot Air care?

libfreeordie on August 13, 2013 at 9:32 AM

5 years.

5 years.

Hmm, that sounds like an encapsulation of some kind…

So it’s the lowest it’s been in the past 5 year rate of record high country-ruining deficits – and still ridiculously high by any comparison to history – and you’re celebrating?

Seriously – what the f*ck is wrong with you?

Midas on August 13, 2013 at 11:42 AM

And…Brennan, the CIA Director is a Muslim!! White House and Federal Government occupied by terrorist cells led by Obama! It seems America is under siege by AQ and the Muslim Brotherhooh! Viewed from that perspective, all of their actions make perfect sense! Meanwhile 400 or so Benghazi SAM missiles are floating around somewhere while they keep stonewalling!Obama is the de facto leader of the Muslim world hidden in the audacity of plain sight!

Marco on August 13, 2013 at 11:45 AM

Holder to investagate the DOJ…..Clapper to investgate the NSA….yep….that should take of everything. THEM REPUBLACAN ARE SO #%$^%!* STUIPD.

nonstopca on August 13, 2013 at 11:50 AM

Having Clapper lead the Review Group may seem like assigning the alpha fox to check IDs at the door to the hen house.

Jeremiah Wright’s chickensssss can’t come home to roossssst, because they’re caught in a Clapper trap.

But don’t worry, all you helpless peons out there. Big Brother Barack is watching you.

Steve Z on August 13, 2013 at 11:54 AM

Good lord. I will never make a personal loan to a liberal if they think like LFOD. Well, if I did, it would carry a high interest rate and it would be secured with unencumbered collateral.

freedomfirst on August 13, 2013 at 11:05 AM

Don’t worry. They don’t need a loan from you. They just have the government steal it from you and take their viggorish, and then give the leftover crumbs to them. This more than satisfies these libtards.

NOMOBO on August 13, 2013 at 11:55 AM

libfreeordie on August 13, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Do you approve of Obama’s Police State?

Galt2009 on August 13, 2013 at 9:49 AM

Nice try at, “Look! Squirrel!”, Libby. Now answer the question. I am certain that Clapper will do a bang up job. Of covering up.

Sheesh, our general population has apparently devolved to being one step removed from being amoebas.

ghostwalker1 on August 13, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Control of the flow of information is the tool of the dictatorship. Those who are capable of tyranny are capable of perjury to sustain it. Tapping Clapper for an investigation is the ultimate vindication of Edward Snowden.

jpcpt03 on August 13, 2013 at 1:12 PM

It’s time to charge Clapper with lying and contempt. If Obama wants to make hay with his appointment, it will be important to charge him for perjury. Throw the bum in jail, like Scooter Libby.

djaymick on August 13, 2013 at 2:05 PM

Edward R. Murrow“A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.”

Pam Kemp ”The kids in school are no longer taught the truth of our nation and the formation of our government.  The pictured is distorted and many points are ignored, many points are lied about.  We need to get the parents involved but that won’t happen.  Most of them have been brain washed to think the way their kids are being taught.  The problem with this is, our history is lost.

Clapper, my what big teeth you have.Obama just tossed out his last shread of crediability as he leaves for his $Million dollar a day vacation at our expense. When are we going to stop this maddness? We must trivialize Omaba so that he can do no more damage and iliminate all members of Congress that blindly support “THE PARTY” over the good of “We The People”. We can take no more of these Missdirection, Lies, Coverups, and run and hide managment. How in any good concients can all these problems begoing on in The Federal Government for the past few years and yet NOT ONE, NOT ANY, NOT NONE, WITH OUT ANY EXCEPTIONS, has any politically apointed individual been found guilty of any improprities. That is imposible.

jpcpt03 on August 13, 2013 at 5:26 PM

Let’s hope Clapper’s investigating prowess is superior to his lying skills.

virgo on August 13, 2013 at 11:48 PM