If President Obama really does welcome a debate about the scope of the U.S. surveillance program, a good first step would be to fire Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
Back at an open congressional hearing on March 12, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked Clapper, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper replied, “No sir … not wittingly.” As we all now know, he was lying.
We also now know that Clapper knew he was lying. In an interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell that aired this past Sunday, Clapper was asked why he answered Wyden the way he did. He replied:
“I thought, though in retrospect, I was asked [a] ‘when are you going to … stop beating your wife’ kind of question, which is … not answerable necessarily by a simple yes or no. So I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner by saying, ‘No.’ ”
Not good enough, not even friggin' close. I can understand the debate over whether Clapper lied, but not when Clapper himself admitted lying to Congress and admitted it on national TV. That's suicidally stupid in a intelligence officer, much less DNI.
Nor was this a spontaneous lie or a lie he regretted making. Wyden revealed in a statement today that he’d given Clapper advance notice that he would ask the question and that, after the hearing, he offered Clapper a chance to revise his answer. Clapper didn’t take the offer.
Nope. Lying to Congress openly is bad enough. Lying to Congress openly and not being smart enough to recognize it when you're in charge of the nation's entire intelligence gathering apparatus? Obama should clean out Clapper's desk himself and hand him the box and a pre-paid cell phone so Clapper can call someone and get a friggin clue.
Sorry James, you gotta go.