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Why Lt. Gen. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, Is Being Belittled
Air Force Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper was alleged in the media to have “flunked ABCs' quiz” about a London terror case in which a dozen suspected terrorists were rounded up a few hours earlier. Diane Sawyer, who asked what he knew about the roundup, was shocked, shocked, shocked! that he had not been informed about the incident. Participating in the interview with Gen. Clapper were Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano and white house terrorism chief John Brennan, who had read the Post or had been briefed, as they should have been, involved as they were in terrorist matters. The interview on a Monday morning aired on the following Tuesday evening. Gen. Clapper, like Sarah Palin, does not apparently read the Post first thing every morning during breakfast.
Should Gen. Clapper have been alerted to the story by his staff? Yes, if they brief him every morning about what’s in the press and if they met with him that morning. But they did not. What’s the shock; what’s the surprise? It was news to Diane Sawyer and her question was legitimate but she did not ask him if he was aware of the roundup. She just assumed that because she knew about it, surely Gen. Clapper did, too.
Gen. Clapper was accused of another faux pas when asked in another interview his opinion of the Muslim Brotherhood. In his reply, he said he considered the Brotherhood to be a secular and moderate group. One could take exception to this view as did Israeli journalist Barry Rubin, author of The Muslim Brotherhood, the Organization and Policies of a Global Islamist Movement. He considered our national intelligence staff to be naïve if that is what believe about the Brotherhood. We, too, believe the Brotherhood is a dangerous over- and undercover Islamist group striving for power throughout the Moslem world. But we would not write as Barry Rubin did that, “I’m willing to bet (though admittedly without evidence) that the word around the CIA is that this guy is a fool and an embarrassment and that his staff trembles every time he opens his mouth.” Rubin believes the Obama administration should listen more to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. But Clinton and Gates advocated different policies respecting Libya, Clinton pressing for intervention and Gates opposing it before the fact, while supporting the administration after the fact, which is his political obligation as a member of the President's cabinet.
And the media made fun of Gen. Clapper who, when asked what country was the greatest threat to the U.S., replied, "China." We believe that, too, but he was expected to answer, "Iran." The press believed his answer was an affront to the Chinese and therefore politically incorrect and that the administration considers Iran an enemy, and he should have helped with administration policy. We believe the Director of National Intelligence should tell the truth or refuse to answer. He should not be a propagandist.
Lt. Gen. Clapper was Director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency from 2001-2006, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 1992-1995. He commanded Signals Intelligence in Thailand where he flew 73 combat support missions in EC47s, and he served as Director of Intelligence for three unified commands, US. Forces Korea, US Pacific Command, and Strategic Air Command. Making fun of him as a naive bumbling fool is belied by his distinguished career in intelligence.
Comment by macfan, 3/25/2011:
The news of the terror arrests you refer to didn't make into the newspapers until the 21st. The interview took place on the 20th. So even if Clapper had read the front page of the post while eating his bowl of cereal it was there for him to read.
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