Since the inception of the Edward Snowden affair, one thing has been manifest. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied to Congress. Many have found this behavior unacceptable and have expressed ideas along the lines that Clapper should not only be fired but brought up on charges. While not going so far as to suggest charges, it appears that on Monday politics made for strange bedfellows indeed when Representatives Darrell Issa (R-CA), Ted Poe (R-TX), Paul Broun (R-GA), Doug Collins (R-GA), Walter Jones (R-NC) and Alan Grayson (D-FL) sent an open letter to President Obama saying (among other things) that “[t]he continued role of James Clapper as Director of National Intelligence is incompatible with the goal of restoring trust in our security programs and ensuring the highest level of transparency. Director Clapper continues to hold his position despite lying to Congress, under oath, about the existence of bulk data collection programs in March 2013. Asking Director Clapper, and other federal intelligence officials who misrepresented programs to Congress and the courts, to report to you on needed reforms and the future role of government surveillance is not a credible solution.” Also citing Judge Richard Leon’s ruling in Klayman v. Obama which found the NSA’s bulk data collection practices at odds with the 4th Amendment, the Representatives called the program “Orwellian”, heavily criticized the use of National Security Letters and noted the President failed in his speech of January 17th to address the issue of governmental “exploitation of the Internet through circumvention of encryption.”
Is this kind of open letter a substantive step in forcing real reform of the NSA? Or is it just politically expedient theater? What do you think?