It’s curious how then-President Bill Clinton was impeached and removed from office by the US Congress for just one lie concerning the relatively trivial matter of an extramarital affair – a scandal that didn't concern his official duties.
But James Clapper and Keith Alexander, who are in charge of the NSA system, have told a number of lies while under oath – one journalist counted 14 lies by Alexander – to the US Congress concerning matters of vital importance to the Congress, the American people and the world. Specifically, they have lied, used half-truths, and obfuscated while under oath to conceal from the Congress, and the public, the massive surveillance of the American people's online activities secretly carried out by the NSA. Yet no charges or attempted charges have been brought.
Or consider that former President Richard Nixon was on his way to impeachment and probable conviction, and was essentially forced thereby from office, for the action of his subordinates in breaking-in one time to one office in an attempt to steal or copy some documents. But Obama’s NSA team has carried out systematic capture of online information – i.e., electronic documents or metadata about those documents – from tens or hundreds of millions of Americans, in flagrant violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Bill of Rights. Yet no serious investigation or impeachment proceedings have been launched against Obama.
The Congressional right to investigate, impeach, and remove officials from office is embodied in the US Constitution, which states: "The president, vice president and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors."
Suspected of lying about an alleged sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky to Congress, Clinton was subjected to an extensive investigation by specially-appointed independent Counsel Kenneth Starr. On the basis of his testimony, the US Congress attempted but failed to impeach Clinton.
In Nixon’s case, the bungled attempt to photo documents led to a wide-ranging investigation by Judge John Sirica, the judge in the burglary case; investigations also by an independent counsel; and by a Congressional committee. Witnesses from Nixon’s entourage were legally compelled by subpoenas to testify before the judge and the Congressional committee, and Nixon’s probable direct involvement in the burglary was thereby uncovered. What's more, investigative journalists working for the establishment press also played a prominent role in uncovering Nixon’s involvement.
NSA-related criminal violations of US laws and Constitution – including lying to Congress and the unconstitutional copying of billions of online emails and other documents of tens of millions of Americans – have clearly occurred. U.S. Federal judge Richard Leon has ruled that the NSA's mass collection of Americans' phone data almost certainly violates the constitutional protection of the right to privacy. He also referred to the NSA programs as "almost Orwellian." But no independent counsel or investigative body has been established. No witnesses from Obama's entourage or from the NSA have been compelled to testify as to what the president knew, and when he knew it, and precisely what the involvement of Clapper and Alexander was in these illegal practices.
On the contrary, these men and their crimes against the American people have been handled with kid gloves by a Congress which continues to treat them as some kind of heroes when it comes to the NSA, while the one man who blew the whistle on their crimes – Edward Snowden – has been vilified as some kind of traitor.
Eric Sommer for RT
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.