By Ruth Conniff
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James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, is lucky he is not under indictment for lying to Congress last year.
But there he was, before Congress again on Wednesday, testifying to the Senate Intelligence Committee, and making the outrageous suggestion that Glenn Greenwald is a criminal for publishing the Edward Snowden documents about the NSA's widespread violation of our Fourth Amendment rights.
"Snowden claims that he's won and that his mission is accomplished," Clapper said. "If that is so, I call on him and his accomplices to facilitate the return of the remaining stolen documents that have not yet been exposed, to prevent even more damage to U.S. security."
By pointing a finger at Greenwald, Clapper showed utter disdain for our First Amendment protections and displayed a total ignorance of the ruling in the Pentagon Papers case.
Justices Hugo Black and William O. Douglas called the injunction against the release of the Pentagon Papers a "flagrant" and "indefensible" violation of the First Amendment.
And Justice Black added: "Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people."
Clapper knows a thing or two about deceiving the people.
Last March, in response to a question from Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Clapper testified that the government was not "wittingly" collecting information on millions of Americans. Clapper later said that his comment was "the least untruthful thing" he could have said. His recantation is tantamount to a confession of criminal wrongdoing.
The Justice Department should indict Clapper, not Greenwald.
And we all need to be cognizant of Clapper's -- and Obama's -- flagrant hostility to our First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights.
Photo: Flickr user Medill DC, creative commons licensed.