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Entries in James Clapper (2)

Wednesday
Dec222010

Director of National Intelligence Not Briefed on London Arrests Before Interview

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was caught off-guard Monday by a question on the widely-covered arrest of 12 men in an alleged terror plot in London. Wednesday, Clapper's spokeswoman admits it was because he had not been briefed on the arrests.

In an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, taped Monday afternoon, Clapper was asked about the arrests, which had happened hours before and were featured on all of the network morning news broadcasts. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Chief Counterterrorism Advisor John Brennan, who were also participating in the joint interview, were aware of the arrests.

"First of all, London," Sawyer began. "How serious is it? Any implication that it was coming here? Director Clapper?"

"London?" Clapper said after a pause, before Brennan entered the conversation explaining the arrests.

Later in the interview, Sawyer returned to the subject.

"I was a little surprised you didn't know about London," Sawyer told Clapper.

"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't," he replied.

On Tuesday, Clapper's office had declined to say whether he knew about the specific disrupted plot, but issued a statement calling Sawyer's question "ambiguous." Wednesday, his office appears to have changed their position.

"Director Clapper had not yet been briefed on the arrests in the United Kingdom at the time of this interview taping," said ODNI spokeswoman Jamie Smith in a statement to ABC's Jake Tapper.

Smith explained that Clapper had been working on other matters during the day, following developments on the Korean Peninsula and issues surrounding the ratification of the START nuclear pact. He was not briefed on the London arrests, she said, because it was not centered in the homeland and required no action on his part.

Still, Smith acknowledged, that Clapper "should have been briefed on the arrests, and steps have been taken to ensure that he is in the future."

In an on-camera briefing at the White House Wednesday, Brennan strongly defended Clapper, calling him a "consummate" DNI.

"Should he have been briefed by his staff on these arrests? Yes," Brennan said before criticizing the media for what he called "breathless" coverage of the British arrests.

"I'm glad that Jim Clapper is not sitting in front of the TV 24 hours a day and monitoring what's coming out in the media," Brennan said. "As of that time, there was nothing that the DNI needed to do or to be engaged in that would have required him to set aside other pressing intelligence matters to be briefed on things that were being put out in the press."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec202010

Counterterror Chiefs: London Terror Suspects Were No Threat to US

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- On a day of frayed nerves and false alarms in the U.S. counterterrorism community, ABC's Diane Sawyer sat down with President Obama's national security team in Washington D.C.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Chief Counterterrorism Advisor John Brennan spoke with Sawyer about the threat of terror around the globe, particularly in the wake of Monday's arrest of 12 men in England said to be in the final stages of a major bomb plot.

"As far as I know, we have not yet found any connection between those arrests and any threats to the United States," said Napolitano.

The trio declined to speak about the particulars of the British threat but sought to assure the American public ahead of a busy week of holiday travel. Just Monday, travelers at Newark Airport in New Jersey were held up after authorities closed a terminal to investigate a suspicious package that turned out to be a computer monitor.

"What I say to the American people is that... thousands of people are working 24/7, 364 [sic] days a year to keep the American people safe."

Sawyer asked about recent comments from Michael Leiter at the National Counterterrorism Agency, asserting that not all attacks can be stopped and some innocent lives will be lost.

"I think Mike Leiter was correct," Napolitano said. "You cannot hermetically seal the United States."

"We're not going to bat 1,000 necessarily. We can't guarantee that," said Clapper. "But we're certainly doing everything we can to ensure that we do thwart any kind of an attack."

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