Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has called it a day.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Thursday that he has submitted his resignation to President Barack Obama and will not stay on past the transition to Donald Trump.
Clapper offered the news during his opening statement in a rare open hearing of the House Intelligence Committee after the panel’s ranking Democrat, Adam Schiff of California, said he had heard rumors that the spy chief might stay on into the Trump administration.
But that’s not going to happen, Clapper said. “I submitted my letter of resignation last night, which felt pretty good,” he said. “I got 64 days left and I think I’d have a hard time with my wife anything past that.”
Clapper, a retired Air Force lieutenant general who took on the intelligence director role in 2010, had long said he would be done after this year. He will finish out his term at noon on Jan. 20, his office said afterward.
We can only hope that he doesn’t injure himself leaving the building because his handling of the national defense establishment has been nothing but clumsy, maladroit, and bordering on criminally incompetent. It was Clapper’s DNI that failed to detect an impending attack on Benghazi and then excised all mention of al Qaeda and terrorism from Susan Rice’s infamous talking points. Any demurral Clapper had about the Obama administration’s Arab Spring disaster was well hidden. Clapper’s DNI was, to all appearances, blind-sided by ISIS and intelligence estimates were apparently cooked in order to let the White House pat itself on the back for the kick-ass job it was doing. Most shameful,though, was Clapper’s deliberately lying to Congress over the extent of NSA’s eavesdropping on US citizens:
On March 12, 2013, Clapper appeared before the U.S. Select Committee on Intelligence in his role as national intelligence director, a position created in 2004 to oversee foreign, military and domestic intelligence for national defense. The committee’s role is to oversee intelligence operations of the executive branch, and its members have special access to classified intelligence briefings, sources and budgets.
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., was one of the last senators to ask questions during the open portion of the committee hearing, before it went to a closed session.
Wyden: “I hope we can do this in just a yes or no answer, because I know Sen. Feinstein wants to move on. Last summer, the NSA director (Keith Alexander) was at a conference and he was asked a question about the NSA surveillance of Americans. He replied, and I quote here, ‘The story that we have millions, or hundreds of millions, of dossiers on people is completely false.’ The reason I’m asking the question is, having served on the committee now for a dozens years, I don’t really know what a dossier is in this context. So, what I wanted to see if you could give me a yes or no answer to the question: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
Clapper: “No, sir.”
Wyden: “It does not?”
Clapper: “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not wittingly.”
Wyden: “All right. Thank you. I’ll have additional questions to give you in writing on that point, but I thank you for the answer.”
And that was it. Clapper’s response garnered almost no reaction in the immediate aftermath.
The Snowden effect
That changed on June 5 and 6. Using information leaked by Snowden, The Guardian and The Washington Post released the first in a series of stories that would highlight how the NSA collected metadata from phone companies on calls made by U.S. citizens. Included in the bulk data was who called whom, for how long and when. Subsequent stories showed that Internet data was being collected under different programs.
Between the fecklessness of the administration and the gutlessness of the men running the agencies, our intelligence capabilities have been left in a shambles and we are much less safe today than we were on the eve of 9/11.