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Clapper at Senate Hearing: ‘There needs to be a clear, defined, identifiable leader of the intelligence community’

Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

President Barack Obama’s nominee for Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, Jr. appeared in front of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence yesterday during his confirmation hearing.

During his hearing, Clapper was sternly questioned for three hours on his plans for handling the nation’s Intelligence Community, which has been under a critical microscope since The Washington Post published an investigative report this week claiming that U.S. intelligence services have grown too complex to efficiently serve national security.

When questioned about the issues in the Post’s series, Clapper explained he believes the size of the IC is “under control,” and that the United States has “the largest, most capable intelligence enterprise on the planet.” He criticized the articles as a result of “sensationalism.” However, he agrees certain aspects in the IC could improve.

During the hearing, Clapper vowed he is the right leader to implement those changes within the nation’s intelligence efforts.

“I would not agree to take this position on if I were going to be a titular figurehead or a hood ornament,” he said. “There needs to be a clear, defined, identifiable leader of the intelligence community.”

“If confirmed, I pledge not only to follow the law, but to go a step further and endeavor, as best as I am able, to build upon and increase the trust between Congress and DNI,” Clapper testified. “Our objective ought to be the same: to give the Intelligence Community all that it needs to succeed, consistent with our laws and values. If confirmed, I believe I can do that. I have had very positive discussions with CIA, FBI, and other leaders across the Intelligence Community, and I am quite encouraged by their commitment to making this team work should I be confirmed.”

If confirmed, he would be the fourth director since the position was created in 2005 and succeed former director Dennis C. Blair, who resigned in May. Clapper would oversee 16 intelligence agencies with a budget of $75 billion and would advise the president, the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council.

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