8.05.2013

Sometimes perjury is cool but other times it's not

Interesting news out of Congress over the weekend:
A group of House Republicans has called for a criminal investigation into whether Jon Corzine, a former Democratic governor and senator from New Jersey, lied before Congress in 2011. 
In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday, the 18 lawmakers said that new evidence revealed in a civil case against Corzine contradicts his congressional testimony and may indicate he committed perjury.
The letter can be read here. In it, these 18 intrepid Republicans very clearly document where Corzine, former head of MF Global and one of the great assholes of our time, perjured himself in congressional testimony back in December of 2011. It looks like an open-and-shut case; Corzine unequivocally lied when he testified that he "simply did not know" where hundreds of millions of dollars of MF Global customers' funds had disappeared to. Rep. Grimm (R-NY), the lead signatory, spent 10 years at the FBI specializing in financial crimes, and it looks like he has Corzine nailed here. Good for him. The obvious caveat here is that Corzine is a Democrat and it's unthinkable that Republicans would attack one of their own like this. Nevertheless, this is an encouraging development. Financial vampires like Corzine almost always escape from their criminal activities unscathed and maybe this call for an investigation will actually go somewhere. When someone as powerful as Corzine goes to Congress, takes an oath, and lies through his teeth about a matter of great public interest, he should not get away with it simply because he's powerful. That would be inexcusable.

With the above principle in mind, recall that one James Clapper, currently the Overlord of the Surveillance State Director of National Intelligence, lied to Congress back in March in response to a question from Senator Ron Wyden about NSA data collection:
Wyden: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” 
Clapper: "No, sir."
As everyone now knows, and by Clapper's own admission, this was factually false. Rep. Thomas Massie has rightly called it an "unambiguous lie." There really is no ambiguity at all. He simply lied, straightforwardly and intentionally.

It has now been over a month since it became apparent that Clapper lied. At the time, there was speculation about a potential investigation, even though there's really nothing to "investigate," given that we already know unequivocally that Clapper perjured himself. In any case, nothing has come of it, and calls for a criminal investigation have seemingly been replaced with meek calls for his resignation (yes, amazingly, he still has his job, and even appears to have been given more responsibility since committing perjury). Even the aforementioned Rep. Massie, someone who isn't mincing words about what Clapper did, is stressing only that he should be "relieved of his post," despite acknowledging that "if this were any American citizen or civilian, they would certainly be prosecuted for what he just did." A member of Congress, just casually stating, flat-out, that we do not have a uniform system of justice that treats all citizens equally. Good to hear it confirmed.

The default response among Villagers when a fellow member of the establishment is caught lying is to insist that one shouldn't confuse innocently passing along misinformation with lying. Lying is such a charged term and it's just so uncivil to talk like that about our benign and congenitally well-intentioned leaders. (Clapper himself said, rather hilariously, that his answer was merely "erroneous.") But in this case, the lying is so straightforward and unequivocal, that no one seems to be able to come up with a coherent reason why Clapper should not be investigated and charged. For this reason, we should all refuse to let this go away, and continue writing about it, asking representatives about it, and so on. The only way out of this for Clapper is if people just gradually forget about it.