James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, is in especially hot water. It's not just because Snowden is still in Moscow and headed to Ecuador. It's because he lied to Congress – again.
Last March Clapper appeared before Congress and was asked by Senator Ron Wyden, "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?"
To which he unequivocally replied, "No, sir."
If you watch the video of the hearing, it's pretty obvious that Clapper is a terrible liar. He's visibly sweating, avoiding eye contact, hunched over, and fidgeting. Considering the recent Snowden scandal, the nation is now certain that he lied. So what did he do to fix it?
Clapper appeared in an interview with NBC's Andrea Mitchell, where he attempted to justify his "No, sir":
Mitchell: "Senator Wyden made quite a lot out of your exchange with him last March during the hearings. Can you explain what you meant when you said there was not data collection on millions of Americans?"
Clapper: "First, as I said, I have great respect for Senator Wyden. I thought though in retrospect I was asked when are you going to start — stop beating your wife kind of question which is, meaning not answerable necessarily, by a simple yes or no. So I responded in what I thought was the most truthful or least most untruthful manner, by saying, 'No.' And again, going back to my metaphor, what I was thinking of is looking at the Dewey Decimal numbers of those books in the metaphorical library. To me collection of U.S. persons data would mean taking the books off the shelf, opening it up and reading it."
Well, who can blame Clapper for giving Congress the "least most untruthful" answer? Politicians have done that for millennia.
But there was another option: the truth. Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was asked at a 2006 Senate Judiciary Hearing whether the government had been collecting large amounts of data on Americans' phone calls.
He responded, "The programs and activities you ask about, to the extent that they exist, would be highly classified."
So apparently there was a less most untruthful answer for Clapper to give. Considering that lying in testimony to Congress is a felony, Clapper should be fired, if not brought to court on charges of misleading Congress.