Talk about collapsing standards. When Barack Obama ran for office, his promise wasn’t that he’d simply improve our politics; he would transform them. He would appoint men and women of unblemished integrity who would serve the public interest. Mr. Obama would hold people accountable. He boasted in 2010 that he had put in place the toughest ethics rules in history. His administration would be the most transparent in history. And all of this would restore faith and trust in government.
That was then. Let me tell you about now.
James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, clearly mislead Congress when in March of this year Clapper was asked by Senator Ron Wyden, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
“No, sir,” Clapper responded.
“It does not?” Wyden asked again.
“Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not wittingly.”
That statement was false, since we know that the NSA has collected phone records of millions of Americans.
And so what is Mr. Clapper’s excuse? Try this one on for size. The New York Times reports that in an interview on Sunday with NBC News, Mr. Clapper acknowledged that his answer had been problematic, calling it “the least untruthful” answer he could give.
That phrase–what Clapper said is “the least untruthful” answer he could give–should live on in scandal lore.
As you might expect, the Obama administration is expressing support for Clapper as criticism of him mounts. “The president has full faith in director Clapper and his leadership of the intelligence community,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told the Guardian.
Of course he does. Why wouldn’t Obama have faith in James Clapper, since his attorney general is Eric Holder (who has misled Congress on multiple occasions)?
Rather than cleanse the political Augean Stables, the president and his administration–with every unfolding scandal, with every misleading statement, with every effort to stonewall and intimidate political opponents–are adding to the filth.