Who says that progressives and conservatives can’t agree on anything? When Barack Obama put DNI James Clapper in charge of picking a panel to get past all of the lies told about NSA surveillance activities over the last couple of years to Congress and everyone else, conservatives reminded Obama that Clapper was one of the people who misled Congress in the first place. Two days later, a progressive activist group responds with a PPP poll showing that a “huge majority” of voters in five states think Clapper should be indicted for perjury rather than appointed to investigate it:
Voters from five states across the country — Kentucky, Texas, Iowa, California, and Hawaii — were surveyed recently in polling conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) on behalf of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and CREDO.
When asked if the the Director of National Intelligence should be criminally prosecuted for perjury for lying to Congress about whether the government was collecting millions of phone and Internet records from ordinary Americans, a clear majority of those surveyed said he should. See full survey results below.
“James Clapper willfully lied to Congress about the government’s mass spying on Americans. If Congress is lied to, and the representatives of the people have no oversight ability, we don’t have a democracy anymore — we have a rogue government agency,” said Adam Green, PCCC co-founder. “James Clapper’s perjury was clearly criminal, and Americans from red states and blue states agree he should be held accountable.”
“There is no denying that James Clapper flat out lied to Congress about the breadth of the NSA’s secret spying programs,” said Becky Bond, Political Director for CREDO Mobile. “Attorney General Holder must hold him accountable for lying to Congress about the NSA spying on millions of innocent Americans.”
Er, sure. The odds of Holder bringing a perjury indictment against Clapper for perjury are about as good as the DoJ’s investigation of DEA surveillance fingering Holder himself as the man who ordered it. Besides, Holder technically wouldn’t be the one to indict Clapper. The Senate would have to approve a criminal charge against Clapper for perjury and obstruction of Congress, which the DoJ would prosecute in federal court. (PCCC says that they are “calling on Congress to resolve this issue” as well.) The odds of either of those happening also approach nil, despite bipartisan outrage over Clapper’s misleading testimony.
Needless to say, the ratios of people in red states who want Clapper prosecuted to those opposed to it are remarkably high — like Kentucky (69/16) and Texas (68/16), better than 4:1 in favor. In swing-state Iowa, it’s almost 5:1 at 65/14. But even in securely Democratic states like Hawaii (57/20) and California (54/14), it’s stark and unmistakable.
Salon’s David Sirota wonders whether we’ll soon see television spots demanding the prosecution of Clapper:
PCCC is already running a campaign to try to force a formal investigation into the NSA’s activities. Will we soon see ads by congressional candidates criticizing the administration’s failure to prosecute Clapper? Last week, D.C. political operatives mgiht have laughed at that idea.
But with these new polls, it doesn’t seem so far fetched. In fact, it seems more and more like shrewd politics – especially if the White House continues to grant de facto immunity to Clapper and others who hid potentially illegal and unconstitutional surveillance from Congress.
I still think the idea is far-fetched. It does, however, point to a potentially devastating credibility issue for the Obama administration, who would have been well advised to dump Clapper as soon as it became clear that the NSA story wasn’t going away. That’s not going to get better by stonewalling the issue, or taking no action other than to have the foxes investigate how the henhouse could be so vulnerable.