On March 13, 2018, the statute of limitations will run out in the case of Obama era National Intelligence Director James Clapper’s perjury in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, effectively ending any chance of prosecution for him.
As noted by USA Today correspondent Jonathan Turley, Clapper sat before the committee in March 2013 and was questioned by Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon on whether intelligence officials had collected data on Americans.
“Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Wyden asked.
“No sir. … Not wittingly,” Clapper responded. “There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.”
However, the former National Intelligence director was, in fact, lying.
It was later revealed that the National Security Agency had programs that collected data from U.S. phone call records as well as online communications, The Washington Post reported.
A top-secret program named PRISM was authorized by federal judges who were operating under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. It allowed the NSA to gain access to servers from major internet companies to access a large cache of digital data.
Clapper later went on to reveal that his testimony that day was “the least untruthful” statement he could’ve made.
In June 2013, Wyden stated that Clapper failed to provide a “straight answer” to his question regarding the surveillance of millions of Americans.
Moreover, Wyden revealed that Clapper’s office was given advance notice that the question would be asked. Wyden also stated that “after the hearing was over, my staff and I gave his office a chance to amend his answer.”
Then, in July 2013, Clapper drafted a letter to Congress where he admitted that his statements during his testimony were “clearly erroneous.”
However, he also stated that his staff reported the error to Wyden’s staff.
Turley states in his op-ed that the statute of limitations expiration will establish that certain people “are above the law.”
He referenced a quote from P.J. Metil, who in a 2007 study found that “(a)lmost no one is prosecuted for lying to Congress.”
Turley adds: “The problem is not that the perjury statute is never enforced. Rather it is enforced against people without allies in government.”
He stated that Clapper’s case “will establish a standard that will be hard to overcome in the future.”
“He lied about a massive, unconstitutional surveillance program and then admitted that he made an “untruthful” statement,” Turley added. “That would seem to satisfy the most particular prosecutor in submitting a case to a grand jury, but this is Washington.”
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