As someone who is charged with overseeing the 17-agency U.S. intelligence community, which includes the CIA, NSA, and FBI, James Clapper often gets asked, “What keeps you up at night?” His answer? “What I don’t know,” Clapper told the Intelligence and National Security Alliance summit Thursday. “Things you know, even if you don’t have all the information, you can work with them, you can get more information.”
During the day, Clapper said he worries about what he does know, which, all together, “kind of makes you miss the Soviet Union.” But right now, there are three things at the forefront of his mind, floating just above the usual suspects, such as counterrorism, cyberattacks, and unrest in the Middle East. Clapper calls them the three S’s: sequestration, Snowden, and Syria.
Sequestration. Earlier this year, Clapper told the House Intelligence Committee that sequestration cuts to the National Intelligence Program would total $4 billion in 2013. The cuts, Clapper said at the summit, have forced his office to determine “what to protect and what not to” protect. He wasn’t optimistic about solutions. “We’re probably in for it for another year,” Clapper said.
Snowden. In March, Clapper told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the National Security Agency does not collect “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.” A month later, former NSA contractor and current Russia dweller Edward Snowden revealed that wasn’t the case in a stream of leaks that hasn’t yet dried out. Clearly, Clapper and Snowden aren’t best buds. “As loath as I am to give any credit to what’s happened here, I think it’s clear some of the conversation this has generated, some of the debate, actually probably needed to happen,” Clapper said. “It’s unfortunate it didn’t happen some time ago, so if there’s a good side to this, maybe that’s it.”
But Snowden should probably stop now. “Unfortunately, there is more of this to come,” said Clapper almost despairingly, explaining that he’s worried about more revelations harming national security.
Syria. “For me lately, it’s been all Syria, all the time.” Clapper added little more to this. He did say, though, that he believes national security officials know considerably more — and have better means to accomplish that — than they did during talks of weapons of mass destruction in 2002.
Although he didn’t group it in this trio of daytime thoughts, Clapper touched on another S-word during his speech, one most Americans likely associate the director with: surveillance. “The efforts we attempt to make in good faith to separate from those needles the innocent hay, from the nefarious needles, is really what this all boils down to,” said Clapper of the NSA’s practice of monitoring millions of innocent Americans to weed out the criminals. But, he said, “We have to be more transparent about how we do our business and what it takes to do it.”
Clapper is set to oversee President Obama’s review of the very NSA surveillance programs the director had misled Congress about. “We must restore the trust and confidence of the American people and their elected officials,” he said. The tools used by the NSA, “if we keep these tools at all — they’re going to be legislatively amended.”
- 1 The Story of 2016: Republicans Feeling “Betrayed” by Their Leaders
- 2 After Trump, GOP Foreign Policy Faces an Uncertain Future
- 3 Senator Manchin: What My Daughter Did Should Be Illegal
- 4 Donald Trump’s Murky Polling Operation
- 5 Smart Ideas: Oil Pipelines vs. Oil Trains, and the Next Generation of Biological Threats
What We're Following See More »
Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”
Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.
Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.
Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”