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James Clapper

James R. Clapper
4th Director of National Intelligence
Assumed office
August 9, 2010
President Barack Obama
Deputy Stephanie O'Sullivan
Preceded by David Gompert (Acting)
Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence
In office
April 15, 2007 – June 5, 2010
President George W. Bush
Barack Obama
Preceded by Stephen Cambone
Succeeded by Michael Vickers
Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
In office
September 2001 – June 2006
President George W. Bush
Preceded by James King
Succeeded by Robert Murrett
Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency
In office
November 1991 – August 1995
President George H. W. Bush
Bill Clinton
Preceded by Dennis Nagy (Acting)
Succeeded by Kenneth Minihan
Personal details
Born James Robert Clapper, Jr.[1]
(1941-03-14) March 14, 1941 (age 73)
Fort Wayne, Indiana, U.S.
Alma mater University of Maryland, College Park
St. Mary's University, Texas
National Defense University
Air University
Military service
Service/branch United States Air Force
Years of service 1963–1995
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Awards Legion of Merit (3)
Bronze Star (2)
Air Medal (2)

James Robert Clapper, Jr. (born March 14, 1941)[2][3] is a retired lieutenant general in the United States Air Force and is currently the Director of National Intelligence. He was previously dual-hatted as the first Director of Defense Intelligence within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence alongside the position of Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence.[4] Clapper has held several key positions within the United States Intelligence Community. He served as the director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) from September 2001 until June 2006. Previously, he served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) from 1992 until 1995.

On June 5, 2010, President Barack Obama nominated Clapper to replace Dennis C. Blair as United States Director of National Intelligence. Clapper was unanimously confirmed by the Senate for the position on August 5, 2010.[5][6]

Early life

Clapper was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the son of Anne Elizabeth (née Wheatley) and First Lieutenant James Robert Clapper.[7][8] His maternal grandfather, James McNeal Wheatley, was an Episcopalian minister.[9]

In the media

In 2003, Clapper, then head of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, attempted to explain the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq by asserting that the weapons materials were "unquestionably" shipped out of Iraq to Syria and other countries just before the American invasion, a "personal assessment" which Clapper's own agency head at the time, David Burpee, "could not provide further evidence to support."[10]

In an interview on December 20, 2010 with Diane Sawyer of ABC News, Clapper indicated he was completely unaware that twelve alleged would-be terrorists had been arrested in Great Britain earlier in the day.[11][12]

In February, 2011, when mass demonstrations were bringing down Mubarak's presidency in Egypt, Clapper told a House Intelligence Committee hearing that:

"The term 'Muslim Brotherhood' an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam," ... "They have pursued social ends, a betterment of the political order in Egypt, et cetera.....In other countries, there are also chapters or franchises of the Muslim Brotherhood, but there is no overarching agenda, particularly in pursuit of violence, at least internationally."[13]

In March 2011, Clapper was heard at the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services and commented on the 2011 Libyan civil war saying that "over the longer term" Gaddafi "will prevail." This position was loudly questioned by the White House, when National Security Advisor Thomas E. Donilon qualified his statement as a "static and one-dimensional assessment" and argued that "The lost legitimacy [of Gaddafi] matters."[14] During the same hearing he was also questioned when he neglected to list Iran and North Korea among the nuclear powers that might pose a threat to the United States.

Military career

After a brief enlistment in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, General Clapper transferred to the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program. He was commissioned in 1963 as a distinguished military graduate from the University of Maryland. He commanded a signals intelligence detachment based at a listening post in Thailand's Udon Thani Province (where he flew 73 combat support missions in EC-47s); a signals intelligence SIGINT wing at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, and the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. Clapper served as director of intelligence for three of the unified commands: U.S. Forces Korea, U.S. Pacific Command and Strategic Air Command. Also, he served as senior intelligence officer for the air force.[15] Clapper's final military post was as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. After this he briefly served as an executive in several private companies such as Booz Allen Hamilton and SRA International.

Appointment as USD(I)

After his departure from NGA in June 2006, Clapper briefly served as the chief operating officer for Detica DFI, now a US-based subsidiary of BAE Systems. For the 2006-2007 academic year, Clapper held the position of Georgetown University’s Intelligence and National Security Alliance Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Intelligence.[16] While teaching at Georgetown, Clapper was officially nominated by President George W. Bush to be Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence on 29 January 2007. Clapper was confirmed by the United States Senate on 11 April 2007.[17] He was only the second person to hold this position, which oversees and provides policy, program, and budgetary guidance to the defense intelligence agencies—DIA, NGA, the National Security Agency (NSA), and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)—and also works closely with the Director of National Intelligence (DNI).

Director of National Intelligence


On June 4, 2010, multiple news agencies reported that United States President Barack Obama was planning to nominate Clapper as the next Director of National Intelligence.[6][18] Despite the report that Clapper was suggested to President Obama by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, both Chairwoman Diane Feinstein and Vice-Chairman Kit Bond of the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence had offered reservations regarding his appointment.[6]

President Obama made the official

On August 5, 2010, Clapper was confirmed by the Senate in a unanimous vote.[5] Lawmakers approved his nomination after the Senate Intelligence Committee backed him with a 15-0 vote. During his testimony for the position, Director Clapper pledged to advance the DNI's authorities, exert tighter control over programming and budgeting, and provide oversight over the CIA's use of predator drones in Pakistan.[20]

New deputy director for intelligence integration

In August 2010, Clapper announced a new position at the DNI, which was designed to integrate the former posts of Deputy Director for Analysis and Deputy Director for Collections, now called the deputy director for intelligence integration. Robert Cardillo, the deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was tapped as the first person to fill this new post.[21][22][23]

Budget authority

In a tentative agreement reached between Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Director Clapper, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will assume administrative control over the National Intelligence Program (NIP). Previously the NIP was itemized within the Defense Department budget to help keep the line item and dollar amount from public disclosure, the practice of which will now be disbanded. Director Clapper's office publicly disclosed the top line budget late October 2010. Senior intelligence officials believe the budget change will likely strengthen the DNI's authority.[24][25][26][27][28]


Giving evidence to the Senate in February 2012 Clapper told Congress that if Iran is attacked over its alleged nuclear weapons program, it could respond by closing the Strait of Hormuz to ships and launch missiles at regional U.S. forces and allies. Former Defense Intelligence Agency chief Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess tells senators Iran is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict. Clapper says it’s “technically feasible” that Tehran could produce a nuclear weapon in one or two years, if its leaders decide to build one, “but practically not likely.” He says recent diplomatic outreach by Iran to European diplomats could indicate that officials there are reconsidering the program. Both men say they do not believe Israel has decided to strike Iran.

Common information technology enterprise and desktop

Director Clapper has made "intelligence integration" across the IC the primary mission of the ODNI.[29] In 2012, the office announced an initiative to create a common information technology desktop for the entire Intelligence Community, moving away from unconnected agency networks to a common enterprise model. The shared IT infrastructure will reach initial operating capability in late fiscal 2013, with plans to bring on all intelligence agencies over the next few years.[30]

False testimony to Congress on NSA surveillance programs

On March 12, 2013, during a United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing, Senator Ron Wyden quoted the keynote speech at the 2012 DEF CON by the director of the NSA, Keith B. Alexander.[31] Alexander had stated that "Our job is foreign intelligence" and that "Those who would want to weave the story that we have millions or hundreds of millions of dossiers on people, is absolutely false…From my perspective, this is absolute nonsense."[31] Wyden then asked Director Clapper, "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?" He responded, "No, sir."[31] Wyden asked "It does not."[31] and Clapper said "Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertantly perhaps collect, but not wittingly."[31]

On June 6, 2013 Director Clapper released a statement admitting the NSA collects telephony metadata on millions of Americans telephone calls.[32] This metadata information included originating and terminating telephone number, telephone calling card number, International Mobile Station Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, time, and duration of phone calls, but did not include the name, address or financial information of any subscriber.[33]

On Sunday June 7, 2013, in an interview with Andrea Mitchell on NBC, Clapper said that he had chosen "I thought was the most truthful or least most untruthful manner" when he testified.[34] On June 12, 2013, United States House of Representatives member Justin Amash became the first Congressman to openly accuse Director Clapper of criminal perjury, and calling for his resignation. In a series of tweets he stated: "It now appears clear that the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, lied under oath to Congress and the American people," and "Perjury is a serious crime ... [and] Clapper should resign immediately,"[35] Senator Rand Paul said "The director of national intelligence, in March, did directly lie to Congress, which is against the law."[36]

On June 27, 2013 a group of 26 senators sent him a complaint letter opposing the use of a "body of secret law".[37][38] On July 1, 2013, Clapper issued an apology, saying that "My response was clearly erroneous – for which I apologize."[39] On July 2, Clapper said that he had forgotten about the Patriot Act and therefore had given an "erroneous" answer.[40]

The journalist Glenn Greenwald accused the media in the U.S. of focusing on Edward Snowden instead of focusing on wrongdoing by Clapper and other U.S. officials.[41] Jody Westby of Forbes argued that due to the revelations, the American public should ask Clapper to resign from office, arguing that "Not only did Mr. Clapper give false testimony to Congress, even his June 6 statement was false. We now know — since the companies identified by the Washington Post have started fessing up — that lots more than telephony metadata has been collected and searched."[42] Fred Kaplan of Slate also advocated having Clapper fired, arguing "if President Obama really welcomes an open debate on this subject, James Clapper has disqualified himself from participation in it. He has to go."[43] Andy Greenberg of Forbes said that NSA officials along with Clapper, in the years 2012 and 2013 "publicly denied–often with carefully hedged words–participating in the kind of snooping on Americans that has since become nearly undeniable."[31] John Dean, former White House Counsel for President Nixon, has claimed that it is unlikely Clapper would be charged with the three principal criminal statutes that address false statements to Congress: perjury, obstruction of Congress, and making false statements.[44] David Sirota of Salon said that if the U.S. government fails to treat Clapper and Alexander in the same way as it did Roger Clemens, "the message from the government would be that lying to Congress about baseball is more of a felony than lying to Congress about Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights" and that the "message would declare that when it comes to brazen law-breaking, as long as you are personally connected to the president, you get protection rather than the prosecution you deserve."[45]


Clapper also holds an honorary doctorate in strategic intelligence from the Joint Military Intelligence College, Washington, D.C., where he taught as an adjunct professor.

Major awards and decorations

  • William Oliver Baker Award
  • Defense Distinguished Service Medal
  • Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
  • Defense Superior Service Medal
  • Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters
  • Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster
  • Defense Meritorious Service Medal
  • Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
  • Air Medal with oak leaf cluster
  • Joint Service Commendation Medal
  • Air Force Commendation Medal
  • French Ordre national du Mérite (Commander)
  • Order of National Security Merit, Chonsu Medal
  • National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal
  • Officer of the Order of Australia (Honorary) - 5 October 2012

Effective dates of promotion

  • Second Lieutenant Jun 8, 1963
  • First Lieutenant Jan 8, 1965
  • Captain Mar 16, 1967
  • Major Nov 1, 1973
  • Lieutenant Colonel Apr 1, 1976
  • Colonel Feb 11, 1980
  • Brigadier General Oct 1, 1985
  • Major General Sep 1, 1988
  • Lieutenant General Nov 15, 1991[47]


  • May 1963 – March 1964, student, Signal Intelligence Officers Course, Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas
  • March 1964 – December 1965, analytic branch chief, Air Force Special Communications Center, Kelly Air Force Base, Texas
  • December 1965 – December 1966, watch officer and air defense analyst, 2nd Air Division (later, 7th Air Force), Tan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam
  • December 1966 – June 1970, aide to the commander and command briefer, Air Force Security Service, Kelly Air Force Base, Texas
  • June 1970 – June 1971, commander, Detachment 3, 6994th Security Squadron, Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand
  • June 1971 – August 1973, military assistant to the director, National Security Agency, Fort George G. Meade, Md.
  • August 1973 – August 1974, aide to the commander and intelligence staff officer, Headquarters Air Force Systems Command, Andrews Air Force Base, Md.
  • August 1974 – September 1975, distinguished graduate, Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Va.
  • September 1975 – June 1976, chief, signal intelligence branch, Headquarters U.S. Pacific Command, Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii
  • June 1976 – August 1978, chief, signal intelligence branch, J-23, Headquarters U.S. Pacific Command, Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii
  • August 1978 – June 1979, student, National War College, National Defense University, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.
  • June 1979 – January 1980, Washington area representative for electronic security command, deputy commander, Fort George G. Meade, Md.
  • February 1980 – April 1981, commander, 6940th Electronic Security Wing, Fort George G. Meade, Md.
  • April 1981 – June 1984, director for intelligence plans and systems, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
  • June 1984 – May 1985, commander, Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick Air Force Base, Fla.
  • June 1985 – June 1987, assistant chief of staff for intelligence, U.S. Forces Korea, and deputy assistant chief of staff for intelligence, Republic of Korea and U.S. Combined Forces Command
  • July 1987 – July 1989, director for intelligence, Headquarters U.S. Pacific Command, Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii
  • July 1989 – March 1990, deputy chief of staff for intelligence, Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.
  • April 1990 – November 1991, assistant chief of staff for intelligence, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
  • November 1991 – 1995, director, Defense Intelligence Agency and General Defense Intelligence Program, Washington, D.C.

See also

  • Michael Hayden, retired Air Force general and former director of the NSA (1999-2005) and CIA (2006-2009)


External links

  • Ron Wyden
Military offices
Preceded by
Dennis Nagy
Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency
Succeeded by
Kenneth Minihan
Political offices
Preceded by
James King
Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
Succeeded by
Robert Murrett
Preceded by
Stephen Cambone
Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence
Succeeded by
Michael Vickers
Preceded by
David Gompert
Director of National Intelligence
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Michael Froman
as Trade Representative
Order of Precedence of the United States
as Director of National Intelligence
Succeeded by
Samantha Power
as Ambassador to the United Nations

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