By Ray McGovern
Clapper’s remarks in November at the Carnegie Endowment cannot be described as entertaining, but they are highly revealing — particularly the things he admits to in hawking his memoir, Facts and Fears: Hard Truths From a Life in Intelligence. Hard truths indeed.
As mentioned in an earlier posting, the full video of former National Intelligence Director James Clapper’s Nov. 13 appearance at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC is now available on the Carnegie website (See:
http://carnegieendowment.org/2018/11/13/intelligence-brief-with-james-clapper-event-7007 ). It includes the Q&A, during which Ray had four minutes to question Clapper (starting at minute 28:45).
Ray’s back-and-forth with Clapper brought a flashback to May 4, 2006, when Ray questioned then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for four minutes on live TV in Atlanta. (See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1FTmuhynaw ).
As is well known, Rumsfeld’s lies were legion (as he so clearly demonstrated during that particular Q&A). Clapper’s lies are less well known, partly because neither C-SPAN nor CNN were broadcasting live at Carnegie, as they were in Atlanta. Rumsfeld was Clapper’s patron. Before the 2003 attack on Iraq; he put Clapper in charge of the analysis of satellite imagery, in order to ensure that no imagery analyst would dare play skunk at the picnic and blurt out that there were no confirmed WMD sites. Instead, with the help of a co-opted media, Rumsfeld, Clapper, Cheney/Bush, and others were able to convince over two-thirds of Americans not only that Saddam Hussein had all manner of WMD but also that he played a role in the attacks of 9/11. That is roughly the same percentage of Americans who now have been led to believe that the Russias brought us Trump.
At the Carnegie event, Clapper repeatedly borrowed Rumsfeld’s direct denial of their epic, consequential fraud before the Iraq war. He keeps repeating, “I did not lie.” But of course they both did. And in doing so, they helped destroy a country that was of no threat to the U.S., get hundreds of thousands killed, and bring continuing chaos to the Middle East. They suffered zero consequences for their dishonesty.
In his memoir, Clapper admits, with stomach-churning nonchalance, that “intelligence officers, including me, were so eager to help [spread the Cheney/Bush claim that Iraq had a “rogue WMD program”] that we found what wasn’t really there.” (Emphasis added)
And Now …
Clapper’s answers on Russian “interference” in the 2016 U.S. election are, of course, of more current importance and interest — particularly since he is not used to such direct questioning. The Clapper-McGovern back-and-forth is so unusual that we include below a transcript of those four minutes. (Caution: those who limit themselves to the transcript without the video will be cheated out of the body language.)
(Note: Clapper, as usual, keeps referring to the widely cited, so-called Intelligence Community Assessment of January 6, 2017, “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections.” Today, Ray plans to write an after-two-years piece explaining why that poor excuse for intelligence analysis is another fraud on the American people. Indeed, there are indications that Clapper himself had a strong hand in its drafting.)
James Clapper (JC)
Ray McGovern (RM)
RM: My name is Ray McGovern. Thanks for this book; it’s very interesting [Ray holds up his copy of Clapper’s memoir]. I’m part of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. I’d like to refer to the Russia problem, but first there’s an analogy that I see here. You were in charge of imagery analysis before Iraq.
RM: You confess [in the book] to having been shocked that no weapons of mass destruction were found. And then, to your credit, you admit, as you say here [quotes from the book], “the blame is due to intelligence officers, including me, who were so eager to help [the administration make war on Iraq] that we found what wasn’t really there.”
Now fast forward to two years ago. Your superiors were hell bent on finding ways to blame Trump’s victory on the Russians. Do you think that your efforts were guilty of the same sin here? Do you think that you found a lot of things that weren’t really there? Because that’s what our conclusion is, especially from the technical end. There was no hacking of the DNC; it was leaked, and you know that because you talked to NSA.
JC: Well, I have talked with NSA a lot, and I also know what we briefed to then-President Elect Trump on the 6th of January. And in my mind, uh, I spent a lot of time in the SIGINT [signals intelligence] business, the forensic evidence was overwhelming about what the Russians had done. There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind whatsoever. The Intelligence Community Assessment that we rendered that day, that was asked, tasked to us by President Obama — and uh — in early December, made no call whatsoever on whether, to what extent the Russians influenced the outcome of the election. Uh, the administration, uh, the team then, the President-Elect’s team, wanted to say that — that we said that the Russian interference had no impact whatsoever on the election. And I attempted, we all did, to try to correct that misapprehension as they were writing a press release before we left the room.
However, as a private citizen, understanding the magnitude of what the Russians did and the number of citizens in our country they reached and the different mechanisms that, by which they reached them, to me it stretches credulity to think they didn’t have a profound impact on election on the outcome of the election.
RM: That’s what the New York Times says. But let me say this: we have two former Technical Directors from NSA in our movement here, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity; we also have forensics, okay?
Now the President himself, your President, President Obama said two days before he left town: The conclusions of the intelligence community — this is ten days after you briefed him — with respect to how WikiLeaks got the DNC emails are “inconclusive” end quote. Now why would he say that if you had said it was conclusive?
JC: I can’t explain what he said or why. But I can tell you we’re, we’re pretty sure we know, or knew at the time, how WikiLeaks got those emails. I’m not going to go into the technical details about why we believe that.
RM: We are too [pretty sure we know]; and it was a leak onto a thumb drive — gotten to Julian Assange — really simple. If you knew it, and the NSA has that information, you have a duty, you have a duty to confess to that, as well as to [Iraq].
JC: Confess to what?
RM: Confess to the fact that you’ve been distorting the evidence.
JC: I don’t confess to that.
RM: The Intelligence Community Assessment was without evidence.
JC: I do not confess to that. I simply do not agree with your conclusions.
William J. Burns (Carnegie President): Hey, Ray, I appreciate your question. I didn’t want this to look like Jim Acosta in the White House grabbing microphones away. Thank you for the questioning though. Yes ma’am [Burns recognizes the next questioner].