World Class Liars – Brian Cloughley

The Director of America’s Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, is a liar. He was recently found out in a mega-lie in denying the CIA’s illegal actions in “improperly penetrating a computer network used by the Senate Intelligence Committee in preparing its report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation programme,” which he had rebutted with his hand lying on the area of his chest that would in most people indicate a heart beneath. But he has no heart beneath his lying hand. And no conscience, either. Which is why he was chosen to head the CIA.

We might be reminded of Wizard of Oz, in which the Tin Man has no heart, the Lion is a coward and the Scarecrow lacks a brain. Brennan is a Tin Lion, but he’s got a brain, of sorts – unlike his colleague, the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who also lied to Congress, and whose transgressions we’ll discuss in a moment.

Of course it wasn’t the first time Brennan told a lie. In fact his first lie was probably gurgled through the teat of his baby-bottle before he advanced to more ambitious challenges. Like telling lies about drone killings in Pakistan. In June 2011 he declared that the US “is exceptionally precise and surgical in terms of addressing the terrorist threat” and that in the past year there hadn’t “been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities that we’ve been able to develop.” Utter drivel, because it was proved that at least 45 Pakistani civilians had been killed by US drones in that time. The CIA’s lethal keyboard cowboys, playing their video-assassination games from swivel chairs in their air-conditioned amusement parlours were murdering civilians around the world, but were aggressively defended by Brennan. Why not? He is a professional liar, after all.

His lie in March to Senators of the United States concerning the CIA spying on them was explicit. He declared that “As far as the allegations of, you know, CIA hacking into, you know, Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth. I mean, we wouldn’t do that. I mean, that’s – that’s just beyond the – you know, the scope of reason in terms of what we would do. And, you know, when the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong.”

But they were proved completely right, because the liar Brennan was found out and had to apologise to the US Senate intelligence committee, admitting that, as reported, “agency employees spied on committee staff.” His lousy corrupt organisation had for months publicly and stridently denied that anything of the sort had taken place, but, most unusually, they had been caught out and it was reported that “among other things, it was revealed that agency officials conducted keyword searches and email searches on committee staff while they used the network.”

The CIA spies on everyone, and its amateur antics in Germany, a country that had imagined the US to be an ally, have been truly despicable. Not only was it found out to be listening to Chancellor Merkel’s private telephone conversations while Barack Obama was visiting her in Berlin, but last month the Germans arrested a CIA agent working for Germany’s federal intelligence service, the BND. One of Ms Merkel’s ministers, Wolfgang Schäuble, summed up that fiasco as being “so stupid that one can only cry at the foolishness of it,” and he speaks for most of the world – but not for Barack Obama, who declared on July 31 that “I have full confidence in John Brennan.”

And he supports another official deceiver: the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, who had to wait until he cut his baby teeth in order to begin lying through them. As one member of Congress said on 12 June, “It now appears clear that the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, lied under oath to Congress and the American people.” So how did this happen?

In March last year Clapper was asked by Senator Ron Wyden about spying by the National Security Agency. Wyden asked “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” This was a straight question and it got a straight answer, which was “No, Sir.” The senator wasn’t convinced, and asked again: “It does not?” And Clapper replied “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not wittingly.” So that was all right, then. But of course Senator Wyden and many people in Washington and round the world knew that this was a lie, although they couldn’t prove it.

So it wasn’t until two months later, when Edward Snowden revealed the NSA’s all-embracing illegal surveillance that Clapper was found out. If it hadn’t been for Snowden, he would have got away with it. He was forced to admit that “my response was clearly erroneous – for which I apologise. While my staff acknowledged the error to Senator Wyden’s staff soon after the hearing, I can now correct it because the existence of the metadata collection program has been declassified.”

The implications for the world of the lies of this pair of grubby charlatans are wide indeed. We couldn’t believe America about the Iraqi WMD that we were assured were there in vast and staggeringly dangerous quantities. We were lied to, then, by US officials at the highest level, and we’re being lied to again. We’ve also been lied to about Syria, Afghanistan, Ukraine and Libya. 

The vast campaigns of media disinformation about the shambles in all these countries, and in Gaza, are testimony to the policy of lying. We simply can’t trust a word that any of them utters. The world suffers because, as Cicero said over 2000 years ago, “Where is there dignity unless there is honesty?”

Think back again to The Wizard of Oz when the Scarecrow, who bears a marked facial resemblance to Clapper, says to the heroine, Dorothy: “I haven’t got a brain.” Dorothy, puzzled, asks him how he can talk if he hasn’t got a brain and he replies “I don’t know. But some people without brains do an awful lot of talking.” How true.

In an interview on NBC Clapper tried to excuse his lies to the Senate by saying in a weirdly disjointed fashion that he thought the Senator’s question was unfair because “I was asked ‘When are you going to start – stop beating your wife’ kind of question, which is meaning 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.” In other words he told a downright deliberate lie. 

And Obama is standing right behind his lying director of National Intelligence because the White House stated he “certainly believes that Clapper has been straight and direct in the answers that he’s given.” Welcome to Planet Obama, where lies are truth and denial is actuality. Welcome to the wonderful new world of Oz, where people without brains do an awful lot of lying – and the rest of the world pays the terrible price.