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James Clapper, America’s Top Spymaster, Steps Down—Here’s What Happens Next

November 17, 2016

Staffing the next DNI is especially important for Trump, given his limited experience in espionage and national security

This morning, as he appeared before the House Intelligence Committee, James Clapper, our Director of National Intelligence, announced his resignation, effective January 20, 2017—the day Donald Trump will be inaugurated as America’s 45th president.

Submitting his resignation “felt pretty good,” Clapper told committee members, adding, “I have 64 days left and I’d have a pretty hard time with my wife going past that.” In fact, his resignation had been anticipated for months and was no surprise to the committee, since Clapper has been the DNI for more than six years, and President Trump will want his own person in that important job.

The DNI position was created in April 2005, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, as part of a Congressionally-mandated effort to improve high-end command, control, and coordination across the behemoth Intelligence Community. Clapper, who assumed the job in August 2010, served longer as DNI than his three predecessors combined. He is generally assessed as the best DNI to date, allowing that there’s not much competition there.

It’s a tough job, since the Intelligence Community is a diverse mix of top secret bureaucracies which don’t always play well together. The IC is made up of 16 different spy agencies—17 if you count the amply-sized Office of the DNI, which is a Beltway player in its own right—and there’s a reason American intelligence professionals love jokes about cat-herding. None can deny that, particularly under Clapper, the DNI grew more effective at getting our spy agencies to play well together, and information sharing across the IC has unquestionably improved over the last decade.

Some of his success as America’s top spymaster can be attributed to Jim Clapper being a career intelligence officer who knows the business from the ground up. Commissioned in the Air Force in 1963, Clapper served in Vietnam, including 73 combat support missions, collecting airborne signals intelligence, and he was appointed director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 1991. He retired from active duty in 1995 as a three-star general, worked in the private sector for six years, then was appointed the civilian director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in 2001.

Read the rest at The Observer …

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