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

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More