News / USA

Despite Tough Patch, US Intelligence Chief Says He is Staying

FILE - Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper listens during a retirement ceremony at the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Maryland, March 28, 2014.
FILE - Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper listens during a retirement ceremony at the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Maryland, March 28, 2014.
Reuters
Despite enduring "a perfect storm" of troubles for U.S. spy agencies over the last 18 months, the director of national intelligence announced on Tuesday that he plans to stay on the job through the end of President Barack Obama's term.

Speaking to an industry conference in Tampa, James Clapper detailed a litany of challenges he said have hit the $45-billion-per-year U.S. intelligence-gathering effort, from U.S. budget turmoil and the Syrian war to leaks by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

"The past 18 months is one of the toughest stretches for the intelligence community I've seen in my 50-plus years in the business," Clapper said.

Clapper, a former Air Force general who oversees 17 intelligence agencies and is known for his sometimes-blunt language, predicted that spending on everything from spy satellites to human agents would continue to decline.

To critics of U.S. intelligence, he said: "You're going to have a lot less of it to complain about."

Speaking on the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, Clapper defended the work of spy and law enforcement agencies in that incident, saying after-action reviews had found "no smoking guns, no real failure to connect the dots."

A report by intelligence community inspectors general released last week found that information that may have increased scrutiny of Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev fell through the cracks in communications among U.S. intelligence agencies and between the United States and Russia.

Clapper's most vigorous complaints were aimed at Snowden, who revealed highly classified details of U.S. eavesdropping programs and other sensitive matters. Two news organizations, the Washington Post and the Guardian newspaper, were awarded Pulitzer Prizes on Monday for their reporting on the Snowden revelations.

Another senior U.S. official said here Tuesday that Snowden, who was granted asylum in Russia, is now believed to have accessed about 1.5 million classified documents, not the 1.7 million previously reported.

Speaking to a largely sympathetic audience of defense and intelligence professionals at the GEOINT conference in Tampa, Clapper rejected Snowden's reputation as a whistleblower, and said he had caused enormous damage to American security.

Because of the leaks, he said, "We're beginning to see changes in the communications behavior of adversaries, particularly and most disturbingly, terrorists - a trend that I anticipate will ontinue."

Clapper came in for his own share of criticism for telling a Senate hearing, months before the Snowden leaks began last June, that the United States was not collecting data on millions of American citizens. An NSA program to gather bulk data about Americans' phone calls was still classified at the time, and Clapper later described his statement as the "least most untruthful" answer he could give publicly.

"It's not exactly been a fun year, a fun time for me personally," Clapper said on Tuesday.

The intelligence chief said, nonetheless, that he and his principal deputy, Stephanie O'Sullivan, intend to stay until Obama's term ends in January 2017.

Clapper said he wants to oversee completion of a multibillion-dollar program intended to integrate intelligence agencies' numerous separate classified information systems - and perhaps to prevent future Snowdens.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs