Lying in Government: Revisited

I want to spend a quick minute revisiting the “Lying in Government” post. 

Today, it has come out in this Washington Post article that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has apologized for his remarks to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

If all Director Clapper had said was “I am sorry,” then I would at least feel a little better.  The problem is that we all know how Washington works, and a simple apology never happens; there always has to be something extra in the apology to attempt to dodge blame.  In this instance, Clapper gives up a doozy.  Director Clapper says, in part, that he “misunderstood the question.” 

Lets revisit the initial question from Senator Wyden: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”  That is it.  That is the question that Clapper somehow “misunderstood.”  What is there to possibly misunderstand about that question?  That question is about as straightforward as they come.

Lets say for this instance, I give Clapper the benefit of the doubt.  Lets say that Clapper truly didn’t understand what was being asked of him.  After all, there are bright lights and cameras in front of him and Congress is grilling him.  He is being asked the tough questions and he freezes when asked the question by Senator Wyden.  Lets assume all that is true.  He still doesn’t get off the hook, because he knew about the questions a day in advance.  If you remember from my last post, Senator Wyden sent his questions to Clapper’s office in advance so they could prepare answers that would be thorough.  I am sorry, but the advance notice throws the “I misunderstood the question” garbage out the window.

In the long scheme of things is this lie and half-apology a big deal?  Probably not.  I simply think that it hammers home a larger point about government in general: we don’t trust our officials.  If anyone wonders why, here is another prime example.


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