Should the Director of National Intelligence be Fired?

6 Jul

Should the Director of National Intelligence be Fired?

It is interesting to see what James Clapper, our Director of National Intelligence (DNI) now says about the infamous interview earlier this year in which he denied that the National Security Agency (NSA) was collecting data on American citizens:

“I thought, though in retrospect, I was asked [a] ‘when are you going to … stop beating your wife’ kind of question, which is … not answerable necessarily by a simple yes or no. So I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner by saying, ‘No.’ ”

Truthiness. It is a problematic thing, no?

Time was when military folks with a security clearance would answer any open question with “I can neither confirm nor deny that, Sir.” And those who pounced on that answer, when given to certain questions, as proof positive that the person had just confirmed something by refusing to answer, were regarded as loose cannons. They could publish whatever they wanted. No one from the Department of Defense was going to play their game nor address their rumors.

Now apparently we have advanced to a more clever stance. At least the DNI has. He is trying to figure out what might be in the minds of his audience after he “neither confirms nor denies” something. He then regards it as his job to spin whatever it is that he projects is residing in the minds of his audience.


The good old “neither confirm nor deny” phrase still works if everyone uses it. It only stops working when people only use it as shorthand for “there is nothing to see here, folks. Move along . . .”

I do not know whether the DNI should be fired. I will leave that to people at higher paygrades than me .

However, I do know that I do not appreciate being condescended to by a public servant who feels that lying to the American public about data that pertains to us (and, really, belongs to us) is appropriate as “the least untruthful thing” to do.


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