Retired US general to be Obama’s new intelligence chief

     US President Barack Obama has picked retired Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper Jr. as director of national intelligence. According to the New York Times, Lt. Gen. Glapper Jr. is an officer with decades of experience and has been tasked with coordinating the nation’s sprawling spy apparatus amid increasing threats at home and escalating operations abroad. Obama plans to announce his choice in the Rose Garden on Saturday, two weeks after forcing Adm. Dennis C. Blair out of the spymaster job. The selection amounts to pushing the reset button for the president as he tries to recalibrate an intelligence structure that has undergone continued revamping since the debacle leading up to the Iraq war. General Clapper, 69, who retired in 1995 after 32 years in the Air Force, rose from a signals intelligence officer to Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, overseeing all military spy operations. In picking him, the president found an intelligence veteran who clashed with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and was pushed out of office as a result, only to return to the Pentagon as a top lieutenant to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. If confirmed by the Senate, Lt. General Clapper will be the fourth official since 2005 to oversee the nation’s 16 intelligence agencies, a job created in the aftermath of the Iraq intelligence failures. Some intelligence officials have portrayed the job as a bureaucratic nightmare. Essentially, it involves coordinating some very powerful intelligence chiefs, including the C.I.A. director, who have bigger budgets, their own power bases and access to administration officials and members of Congress. Obama has concluded that Lt. General Clapper’s experience would enable him to fix a dysfunctional situation. Lt. General Clapper may face a fight to get confirmed. The choice generated consternation in the Senate, where some Democrats and Republicans complained that he is too closely aligned to the military, has resisted strengthening the office he has been selected for, and has not cultivated close ties on Capitol Hill. Some senators said that Lt. General Clapper lacked a forceful enough personality and management style to assert control over the sprawling American intelligence apparatus. He has an independent streak and has not been afraid to challenge bosses in the past.

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