There’s a common assumption in American politics that once you reach a certain status, justice is below you. It was a point frequently made about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as she ran against then-candidate Donald Trump. Despite lower level leaks receiving harsh punishments for their actions, her recklessness and poor handling of classified information went unpunished. Given Clinton’s status in American political culture, many people were not overly surprised.
Then there is the case of former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who again appeared before Congress today. This time it was alongside former acting Attorney General Sally Yates to discuss the issue of alleged Russian interference in last year’s presidential election.
During his appearance, Clapper claimed that there had been no Republican leaks during the election. This echoes a claim many prominent Democrats and liberal activists had made during the election last year, who often alleged a partisan bias by the whistleblowers in favor of Republicans. As Wikileaks founder Julian Assange himself pointed out however, this is false, as DC Leaks released Republican Party documents late last August.
This is of course the same former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper who famously committed perjury four years ago before Congress when he claimed that the National Security Agency does not collect information on American citizens. When Senator Ron Wyden asked “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”, Clapper stated they did not.
Due to later revelations by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden and Wikileaks, we now know this is false. In addition to knowing it it is false, everyday Americans have been made aware of the true Orwellian extent of the surveillance state that Clapper lied about. Despite these revelations however, nothing was ever done in response to Clapper’s deception.
The politicization of intelligence over the last year has grown significantly. Leaks against President Donald Trump and his associates, as well as repeated anonymous allegations about Russian interference, have been made to seemingly sway American political opinion.
Instead of remaining impartial, the intelligence community is again finding itself on one side of the partisan conflict between Democrats and Republicans. It is impossible that Clapper and the intelligence community missed the DC Leak last year of Republican data, given the repeated leaks last year were big headlines.
So why did Clapper lie today? What are his motives?
There are important questions to be pondered regarding Clapper’s actions and his motives. But more importantly, there is the question in regards to acting upon it. Will the United States Government act on an obvious act of perjury? Or will this be another moment where Clapper gets away with breaking the law?
If President Trump is truly about draining the swamp and acting against the establishment in Washington D.C., he will act on this information. The politicization of intelligence is only harming the integrity of the intelligence community, which in turn harms our nation’s ability to keep itself safe.