WASHINGTON: Jim Clapper, the first Director of National Intelligence to order budget cuts across the intelligence community, may be leaving his post this fall.
Or, then again, he may not. At this stage, all is rumor. So far, we’ve got three people with good intelligence connections saying Clapper is likely on the way out. We’ve got one former senior intelligence saying it is not likely.
But as so often with the intelligence community, rumors possess value because they indicate perception as much as fact. There may be senior Obama administration officials who would like to see Clapper gone. He is a career military man heading a “civilian” intelligence community and there’s another such fish over at CIA named Petraeus. And we all know how they treated retired Adm. Dennis Blair.
Also, two of the sources for the rumor may have a strong institutional interest in Clapper’s departure. But we can’t say more for fear of blowing their cover.
A source with excellent intelligence community access had a specific piece of information. “Clapper was told he is no longer valued….back in October. General Cartwright was offered the job but declined,” this source said in an email.
A former senior Pentagon intelligence official told us that Clapper has said “how much he values working for this President and this administration” and tells him that the administration has demonstrated “their respect for and understanding of the business of intelligence. I¹d be quite surprised to see Jim step down if either a re-elected Obama or newly elected successor asked him to stay on.”
This source also made a key point. The DNI job carries so few benefits and so many responsibilities and is so disliked or distrusted by so many in the intelligence community that, “few qualified people” would “even remotely yearn for the DNI position.” Given all that, this source said, “I think we should all hope that Jim hangs in there.”
Will he? Let us know what you’re hearing.