Clapper and McConnell are worrisome choices because they are known in the intelligence community as guys willing to give their customers what they want. Unlike Negroponte, who took a pretty tough analytical stance dismissing the imminence of an Iranian threat, Clapper and McConnell will be more than willing collaborators in making a case that Iran is a serious, immediate threat. If you want to cook the books then these guys can be master chefs.
Clapper's new job, at least for him, is a dream come true. He appears on the verge of fulfilling a lifelong ambition. While he was director Clapper spent much pf his time politicking and scheming to take away from the Director of the CIA any and all moneys that were budgeted for any support to the armed forces. He wanted to make himself â€œDirector of Military Intelligence,â€ a new title, so that he could receive his fourth star as a full general. He was defeated in this attempt by the then DCI James Woolsey. Although a fourth star is not in the plans, Clapper will be the Director of Military Intelligence.
Jim Clapper, I'm told by a former colleague of Clapper's, may have been the worst director ever of the DIA. An Air force tactical intelligence officer, Clapper knew nothing whatever of intelligence support to policy making when he arrived at DIA as its Director in 1992. His entire world of work up to then had been made up of target photographs and anti-aircraft weapons.
He was completely unfamiliar with the fact that DIA was a major participant in the formulation of national intelligence estimates, and when he found out that was true he said that he â€œhad no intention of participating.â€ Accordingly he re-structured DIAâ€™s analytic force, which had been one of the finest in the world away from such categories as; countries XXX, counter-terrorism, economics, advanced weapons developments, Middle East, Islam, etc. to categories such as; tanks, anti-aircraft rockets, bombs, etc. This removed from the national analytic capability a major asset which would have been invaluable in the period before 9/11.
As a result of his destruction of their career fields, hundreds of the most senior and esteemed analysts retired early. DIA has been trying to re-construct the fine capability that it had at the end of the First Gulf War ever since Clapper left the job of Director. The confirmation hearings of Clapper and McConnell will be a signficant test of the Democratic Senate's spine. Are the Democrats willing to ask tough questions during upcoming confirmation hearings and insist on getting answers? Will the Rockefeller led Senate Intelligence Committee push hard behind closed doors to get a solid, no shit appraisal of whether or not Iran really poses an imminent threat in the Middle East? I hope the answer is yes.