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James Clapper, on top of the secret empire

Thursday, October 24, 2013

October 23, 2013

The Washington Post

James Clapper, the director of national intelligence (DNI), is not your sleek, button-down spy chief. The 72-year-old retired Air Force general has a beatnik goatee, a tendency to speak in malapropisms and a cranky attitude that he sometimes sums up with the phrase “I’m too old for this [expletive]!”

The structure of Clapper’s position overseeing the nation’s 16 intelligence agencies has itself been a kind of bureaucratic nightmare. The post was created in 2004 to reduce the turf wars within the intelligence community that had prevented “connecting the dots” before Sept. 11, 2001. But although the legislation promised to empower a real intelligence chief, it kept key budget and management powers within the Pentagon — with the result that the DNI initially added more layering and second-guessing than efficiency.


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