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Feinstein Doesn’t Sound Like She Wants James Clapper as the Next DNI


Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, just issued a statement practically begging the Obama administration to work with her to restructure the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the five-year-old bureaucratic anomaly seated atop the country’s 16 intelligence agencies. “I have long been concerned that the Director of National Intelligence had more responsibility than authority, and DNI Dennis Blair’s resignation raises the issue to the fore,” Feinstein said in the statement. “After five years and three DNIs, it is clear that the law calls for a leader but the authority provided in law is essentially that of a coordinator. The President needs to decide what he wants the DNI to be, and then work with the Intelligence Committees to see that the necessary authority is, in fact, in law.” Will there be sufficient appetite in the administration for an intelligence overhaul?

Speaking of Blair’s replacement, Feinstein doesn’t come out and say it, but her statement gives a cold shoulder to James Clapper, the Pentagon’s intelligence chief and Blair’s deputy for Defense intelligence, who’s reportedly the leading candidate for the job. “It will be important that any nominee is not beholden to the Pentagon’s interests and can, as needed, provide balance to civilian and military interests in carrying out the nation’s intelligence missions,” Feinstein said in the statement.

No one agency, particularly the Department of Defense, should control the flow of intelligence to the President. The majority of the intelligence budget is already executed by the Department of Defense, and it will always have a strong influence over the Intelligence Community’s operation. That should be balanced, however, by the need for the community to provide strategic intelligence beyond what is necessary for the warfighter.

On the one hand, Feinstein also opposed Leon Panetta’s appointment as CIA director until she got an assurance — in the form of Steve Kappes staying on as deputy director (he recently announced his retirement) — that Panetta wouldn’t jeopardize her prerogatives. On the other, Feinstein didn’t announce any opposition before Panetta’s nomination was announced.

COPYRIGHT_WI: Published on https://washingtonindependent.com/w/85593/feinstein-doesnt-sound-like-she-wants-james-clapper-as-the-next-dni/ by - on 2020-07-31T00:00:00.000Z

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