So Clapper first says it was a calculated move, and now he’s saying it was just an innocuous misunderstanding and an inadvertent error. With that, the public — and the Obama administration prosecutors who aggressively pursue perjurers — are all supposed to now breathe a sigh of relief and chalk it all up to a forgivable screw-up. It’s all just an innocent mistake, right?
Wrong, because in this crime, as Clapper’s changing story suggests, there remains a smoking gun.
Notice this statement from Sen. Wyden about Snowden’s disclosures — a statement, mind you, that the [Washington] Post didn’t reference in its story yesterday (emphasis added):
“One of the most important responsibilities a Senator has is oversight of the intelligence community. This job cannot be done responsibly if Senators aren’t getting straight answers to direct questions. When NSA Director Alexander failed to clarify previous public statements about domestic surveillance, it was necessary to put the question to the Director of National Intelligence. So that he would be prepared to answer, I sent the question to Director Clapper’s office a day in advance. After the hearing was over my staff and I gave his office a chance to amend his answer.So Clapper had a full day’s notice of the specific — and impossible to misunderstand — question Wyden asked, and is nonetheless now claiming that in the heat of the moment he spontaneously misunderstood the question. In other words, he’s not coming clean, as the Post story seems to imply. On the contrary, he’s lying about his deliberate lie, which should only make a perjury prosecution that much easier, for it shows intent.
The importance of such a perjury prosecution, of course, should not be lost on our constitutional law professor-turned-president.
~ from James Clapper Is Still Lying to America by David Sirota ~
As is my wont to do, let's change the setting a bit as well as the characters involved. Let's do so in a way that the average parent could identify with.
For this example, you are the mother of an 11 year old son. Your boy is a baseball fanatic -- he's always cavalierly tossing a baseball around, even in the house sometimes. You have a prized glass sculpture of some sort on the hutch in your dining room. Not only is it expensive, but it holds a certain sentimental value for you.
You have warned your son on numerous occasions to be very careful around your prized glass sculpture. You have forbade him from throwing any balls in the dining room, specifically, and the house, in general.
After returning home from an errand, you discover that the prized glass sculpture has been shattered into little pieces. As you go to clean it up, you notice a baseball sitting under the dining room table. As you pick up the ball, you find that there are some very small glass shards embedded in the leather.
Upon confronting your son, you ask him a simple and straightforward question: Did you break the glass sculpture? He looks you square in the eye and replies, "No ma'am, I did not." You mention that you found one of his baseballs under the dining room table and it appeared some shards of glass were embedded in it. He replies that he left it there the night before and so the glass may have struck the ball upon shattering.
"How do you think the sculpture was shattered?" you ask him. Initially, he only shrugs his shoulders, but then offers that before going outside that morning, he saw the family cat sleeping on the table. "Maybe something spooked him," he says "and he jarred the hutch which caused the sculpture to fall and break."
Since you believe that your son has always been straight and honest with you, you accept his possible explanation as plausible.
Later that day, your husband informs you that he heard your son telling his friends how "he busted that ugly thing my mom keeps in the dining room." Your husband tells you that he had gone into the garage to get something and he heard your son and his friends talking outside. Your son was regaling his friends with his dastardly deed and all of them found his tale to be quite hilarious.
When you later confront your son with this damning information, would you accept the explanation that his response was the "least untruthful" answer he could give? For that matter, would you accept his explanation that he misunderstood your original question?
My guess is that the vast majority of parents would not accept either explanation. The boy would be punished in some manner not only for the original offense, but for lying about it afterwards. He had been provided with the opportunity to give a truthful answer and he instead chose to be dishonest.
That's what we're talking about here. James Clapper willfully lied to Congress and, as David Sirota points out, now he is lying about the lie itself. In legal terms, this is called perjury and there can be stiff penalties for perjuring oneself in official testimony.
The question is: Will Clapper face any punishment at all?