James Clapper on America’s role in the Middle East
‘The U.S. can’t fix it’By David Ignatius Opinion writer May 10 at 8:04 PM, WashPost
Early in his tenure as director of national intelligence, James Clapper could sometimes be heard complaining, “I’m too old for this [expletive]!” He has now served almost six years as America’s top intelligence official, and when I asked him this week how much longer he would be in harness, he consulted his calendar and answered with relief, “Two hundred sixty-five days!”
Clapper, 75, has worked in intelligence for 53 years, starting when he joined the Air Force in 1963. He’s a crusty, sometimes cranky veteran of the ingrown spy world, and he has a perspective that’s probably unmatched in Washington. He offered some surprisingly candid comments — starting with a frank endorsement of President Obama’s view that the United States can’t unilaterally fix the Middle East.
Given Clapper’s view that intelligence services must cooperate against terrorism, a small breakthrough seems to have taken place in mid-April when Clapper met with some European intelligence chiefs near Ramstein Air Base in Germany to discuss better sharing of intelligence. The meeting was requested by the White House, but it hasn’t been publicized.
“We are on the same page, and we should do everything we can to improve intelligence coordination and information sharing, within the limits of our legal framework,” said Peter Wittig, German ambassador to Washington, confirming the meeting.