The Corner

Report: Obama to Nominate Clapper for DNI

Marc Ambinder is reporting that President Obama will nominate Gen. James Clapper, currently Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, to replace Dennis Blair as Director of National Intelligence.

Rumors of the nomination have not gone over well in Congress. Led by Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R., Mich.) ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, key members have argued that Clapper is a poor choice:

Clapper is “not forthcoming, open, or transparent” in his dealings with congressional oversight committees, and therefore would not be suited to a job whose key responsibilities include maintaining cordial (if not warm) relations between the U.S. intelligence community and Congress [Hoekstra said].

Clapper. . . would be “exactly the wrong person” for President Obama to appoint as intelligence czar, Hoekstra says, because “the guy doesn’t believe there is a role for Congress” in the intelligence process. (Neither Clapper’s office nor a Pentagon spokesman had any immediate response to Hoekstra’s criticisms.) “He doesn’t like our oversight,” the congressman says, complaining that Clapper acts as if Congress is an “unnecessary participant in the [intelligence] process.” Hoekstra says there’s nothing personal between him and Clapper: “I like General Clapper,” he says. “[But] there’s a difference between liking a guy and accepting his attitude to Congress.”

On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D., Calif.), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she feared Clapper would give the Pentagon too much control of intelligence:

“I have concerns about Clapper as a choice,” committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, told The Cable  in an interview, saying that the widely expected nomination of Clapper, who now is under secretary of defense for intelligence, would give the military too much control of the intelligence community. “The best thing for intelligence is to have a civilian in charge. The elbows are less sharp.”

The favored move on Capitol Hill seems to be elevating Leon Panetta from head of CIA. The favored move at Dan Foster’s desk is eliminating the DNI.


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