Clueless, but Sleeping Well

Wow. I have a number of problems with this video, but there was only one that made me slap my desk and yell at the computer. Credit goes to ABC’s Diane Sawyer for sticking with the question and asking about it.

That’s right — like you, I was astounded that James Clapper, the Obama administration’s Director of National Intelligence, was completely, totally and admittedly in the dark about terror arrests which had taken place across the Atlantic Ocean just hours before. Did he come to the ABCNews interview from the golf course? Had he been napping? When so many threats that start overseas have final planned consequences on our side of the pond–liquid bombs, anyone?–how does the Director of National Intelligence NOT know, even slightly, what had transpired in London that same afternoon?

Holy cow.

Then, you have the part in which Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan argues that hapless wanna-be bombers Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (the Scrotal Bomber) and Faisal Shahzad (the Times Square Bomber) were only unsuccessful because our actions had so “degraded” the terrorists’ abilities to train, to build bombs, and to carry out their attacks on innocent men, women and children in the name of Allah. Had Diane Sawyer truly been on the ball, she would have then asked something along the lines of “assuming that we have indeed degraded the terrorists’ abilities to train, build bombs and carry out attacks, how has that effort helped in the attacks on Fort Hood and the recruitment office in Arkansas?”

The truth is, while the Obama administration has definitely made some stops–and probably more than you or I will ever know–in many cases we have gotten darn lucky as well. And while we may never be certain of what goes on behind the scenes in the halls of our intelligence offices, looking at that video one thing is for certain: When the most competent national security official at any table is Janet Napolitano, you know our nation is in trouble. It’s kind of like an Olympic 4×100 relay anchored by Michael Moore — if he’s the fastest representative of our nation on the track, you know we ain’t seeing gold, silver or bronze.



  1. Chuck in San Diego says:

    Coming to Lt Gen. Clapper’s defense…Sometimes when you know something but you’re not sure if it’s been cleared for release to the press, you just have to feign ignorance…at the expense of looking stupid. The Brits may have not cleared for release the arrest information when Clapper went into prep for the interview. He may have been completely aware of the Brit’s information and investigation on these 12 terrorists….but who knows….maybe his watch officer at the Ops Center had turned from CNN to The View to catch up on the latest gossip and missed the press coverage.

  2. Boston Blackie says:

    Astonishing that “The Clapp” is so clueless. Like George Bush said, we have to get it right every time, the terrorists only have to get it right one time.

  3. Jeff Schreiber says:

    Chuck — look at his face. Sawyer was asking about the news reports. Obviously, information had already been released. Whatever the reason, he was in the dark on this one.

  4. Practicing curling up under my desk says:

    Thought I was watching Dumb & Dumber, but then realized there are three of em.

  5. Gail B. says:

    Diane Sawyer made my jaw drop when I caught the video over on The Blaze. She actually stayed on point with the question and put the guy on the defensive!

    Chuck in San Diego, I also considered the possibility of what had been cleared for release; but as Jeff pointed out, he was clueless. He even said so. Put it this way–his presence at the interview brought nothing to the table other than exposure of the Peter Principle.

    While we’re talking about security, the checking and searching being done at our homeland airports has nothing to do with security. We are being nudged, regulated, watched, and our privacy invaded in the name of security, when it’s all about getting the citizens accustomed to government control. I learned last night that if you refuse to submit to the screening machine at airports, they collect data about you and put you into a database. I still have not learned the purpose of the GPS data collected by the census takers and the reason for the photo of my front door.

    This administration does not give a lot of information to the citizens, but it certainly collects a lot from us. WHY?!

    And, Boston Blackie, do you have any information about why a Massachusetts elementary school requires permission slips to pledge allegiance to the United States of America and to its Flag?

    And, why is it okay to discuss “Islam” and “Muslim,” but it’s not okay to wish someone a Merry Christmas? We celebrate the birth of Christ, not the birth of a holiday.

    Is it just me, or does anyone else feel as though we’re being forced to swim upstream in our lives, or to be herded through narrow channels as a nation? What happened to FREEDOM? What is being done to our CONSTITUTION? Whose great idea is TRANSNATIONALISM?!

    Thank the Lord we will have some conservatives in Congress in the 112th and that Republicans will pick up seats through redistricting. Texas is gaining four seats! New York is losing two.

    And, thank the Lord for America’s Right, so that I can let off steam instead of having a stroke!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Was that a Bill Clinton intern commenting above at 12:11?

  7. GeorgiaSaint says:

    Chuck and others – Take another listen to Diane Sawyer’s return to the question about London. She said to Director of National Intelligence Clapper, “I was a little surprised you didn’t know about London,” referencing back to her earlier question. And remember, Deputy National Security Adviser Brennan tried valiantly (but obviously unsuccessfully) to come to Director Clapper’s rescue after Clapper sat dumbfounded before Sawyer. By the time she came back and re-addressed that original question with her statement of surprise, the issue was clearly all on the table – no question what she was talking about after Deputy Brennan clarified it.

    Yet still, Director Clapper very clearly admitted he didn’t know about it. He did not correct her or even try to make any excuses. He could have said what his own office said the next day, “Oh, of course I was VERY aware. It was just that your question was ambiguous and I didn’t realize you were talking about that specific incident.” Instead, he clearly answered her statement of surprise at his lack of knowledge with a simple, no-excuses , “I’m sorry. I didn’t.” There’s nothing ambiguous about his answer! His office’s later statement that his knowledge was “profound and multidimensional,” is total Bravo Sierra. Again, listen to it (and watch) – Director Clapper clearly stated, once everything had been completely clarified (thanks to Deputy Brennan), “I’m sorry. I didn’t.” Clapper just plain didn’t know. Period.

    And that’s more than a bit concerning, given his position. Brennan figured out what Sawyer was referencing almost immediately, and was sharp enough to try covering not once, but twice, while Clapper sat dumbfounded and later simply apologetic for not knowing. If he didn’t know, it’s concerning enough. But he also appears to have lost the ability to think quickly and cover for himself – a skill he no doubt possessed at one time, given his background. Perhaps he’s outlived his capacity to serve in that kind of position?

  8. GeorgiaSaint says:

    Follow up: Just moments after sending my previous comments, I went to check news before going to bed. What’s at the top of Google News as of early 23 December? “White House officials acknowledged Wednesday that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had not been briefed about terrorism arrests in London before an ABC-TV interview this week. But he insisted he is fully engaged in the intelligence process.” His own office – the same one that said he has “a profound and multi-dimensional” awareness – now says the following:

    “In a statement, a DNI spokeswoman said Clapper had not been briefed ‘because it didn’t appear to have a homeland nexus and there was no immediate action by the DNI required,’ but he would be briefed in the future.”

    Clapper’s own people can’t even get their story straight – first he was “profoundly” aware, then he wasn’t even briefed.So: (1) Director Clapper did or did not know, depending on which cover story we believe. (2) One of his own agency’s statement was either just plain made up, or an intentional lie, but we don’t know which one. And (3), we’ve got a Director of National Intelligence who can’t think quickly when under pressure and figure out a way of minimizing the damage, EVEN after Deputy Brennan had essentially given his all he needed for cover. And we’re supposed to trust these people?!?

    I actually feel sorry for Director Clapper, being set up like that, whether unintentionally or not. He served as an aide to a number of high ranking officers in his early Air Force career. The job of an aide is to watch out for and protect his boss. Where were Clapper’s aides the other day, allowing him to go in to a major news interview, not knowing about an event earlier that day? But again, I’m also concerned that he didn’t even display any skills at trying to cover for himself as Brennan did for him (twice). He’s a retired Air Force Lieutenant General with quite a career behind him including many assignments that required thinking on his feet and very quick decision-making skills. He held positions of significant and increasing responsibility prior to even being promoted to the rank of Major. I really do have to wonder if he’s up to his current position any longer. He’s only a bit past 70, but for some people that’s enough.

  9. Your last paragraph says it all.

  10. Ima SoBelle says:

    Jeff, Thanks for posting this. The more I think about what really happened in the video, the more disturbing it gets to me. How can smeone in that position not know what is going on? Is he deliberately being kept in the dark, does he not care or as Georgia Saint states, is he unable to handle it? In any case, our country needs and deserves better. I, too, feel a bit sorry for Director Clapper. He was in over his head, whatever the reason.

  11. Gail B. says:

    GeorgiaSaint says (and says and says)–
    And, I say that GeorgiaSaint should be an investigative reporter! She’s on the ball! Thanks, GeorgiaSaint!

    On another subject — the economy, it would help the United States if Obama would change his economic advisor(s) to someone who knows the difference between poverty and prosperity. Talk about being clueless?!

  12. Ima SoBelle says:

    Others have noticed, too. Congress knew about this weeks ago. Just saw this one on Fox online news:


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