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Jul 29, 2013

CREW Calls on DOJ to Investigate DNI Clapper for Lying to Congress

James ClapperWashington, D.C. — Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder requesting that the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigate Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, Jr. for lying to Congress.  Contrary to what Director Clapper told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the National Security Agency (NSA) does, in fact, collect data on Americans, as documents disclosed by former NSA contractor Edward J. Snowden demonstrate.

Read the letter to the Department of Justice and supporting exhibits

CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan stated, “The Obama administration has been extremely aggressive in prosecuting leaks.  It is only reasonable to expect DOJ to be at least as diligent in investigating high government officials who deliberately lie to Congress.” 

At a March 12, 2013 Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) asked Director Clapper, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”  Director Clapper responded, “No, sir … Not wittingly.  There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps, collect, but not, not wittingly.”

Recent disclosures by Mr. Snowden reveal that the NSA is, in fact, engaged in collecting private data on millions of Americans through the PRISM program, that the NSA was doing so at the time of Director Clapper’s testimony, and that he was aware of this when he testified.  On June 8, after the existence of the PRISM program was revealed, Director Clapper told NBC he made the “least untruthful” statement he could without divulging classified information.  Director Clapper later sent a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chair of the intelligence committee, claiming to have misunderstood Sen. Wyden’s question.

By testifying falsely, Director Clapper appears to have violated laws prohibiting false statements and obstruction of a congressional inquiry.  In 1977, in an analogous situation, DOJ prosecuted then-CIA Director Richard Helms for lying to a congressional committee about CIA operations in Chile.

Sloan continued, “If DOJ can hound former NSA executive Thomas Drake for years, only to drop its case at the last minute and allow him to plead to a minor misdemeanor, and waste valuable resources prosecuting baseball player Roger Clemens for lying about using performance-enhancing drugs, you’d think the department could find the bandwidth to investigate a top official for lying about an issue impacting the constitutional rights of millions of Americans.  Only in intelligence circles could providing 'the least untruthful' response not be considered an outright lie.  If the administration hopes to maintain any credibility with the American people, Director Clapper must be held accountable for deliberately lying to Congress.”

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