Testimony from the nation's intelligence director that Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi will "prevail" in that country's conflict prompted an attempt by the White House on Thursday to play down that assessment and a call by at least one key senator for the resignation of the nation's top spy.
The fallout was the latest example of the extreme sensitivity surrounding public comments by U.S. intelligence officials on events unfolding in North Africa and the Middle East.
The reaction to the remarks by James R. Clapper Jr. also reflects one of the precarious aspects of his job. As director of national intelligence, Clapper is expected to provide blunt assessments that aren't shaped by politics, even though such assessments often create political consequences of their own.
Clapper stepped into Thursday's controversy when he was asked to address the conflict in Libya. Gaddafi "appears to be hunkering down for the duration," the intelligence director said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, adding moments later that because the dictator has superior military resources "over the long term . . . the regime will prevail."
Clapper's testimony came after President Obama declared that Gaddafi no longer had a legitimate hold on power, and as the administration said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton would meet with leaders of the Libyan opposition. ...
via Intelligence director's testimony about Gaddafi causes controversy.
From the attack on Pearl Harbor to 9/11, intelligence failures have been blamed for America’s most devastating defeats. Clapper, a retired Air Force lieutenant general now serving as director of national intelligence, is among the government’s top intelligence officials charged with making sure such attacks remain history.
A holdover from the George W. Bush administration, Clapper was the principal adviser to both Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Deputy Secretary William Lynn on intelligence and security matters from the start of the Obama administration. He played another important role in the intelligence community as director of defense intelligence under Adm. Dennis Blair, who was President Barack Obama’s director of national intelligence (DNI) until he resigned in May 2010. Clapper served as liason between the DNI, which he believes should be a robust office, and the Pentagon.
Shortly after Blair's resignation, the White House signaled it's intent to nominate Clapper to replace his old boss as DNI. ...