At social event, DNI Clapper acknowledges "the elephant in the room"
June 8th, 2013
11:42 PM ET

At social event, DNI Clapper acknowledges "the elephant in the room"

By Pam Benson

It would probably be an understatement to say this was one of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s worst weeks on the job.

Leaked details of two top secret surveillance programs had the intelligence community and the Obama Administration scrambling to respond to what appears to be a massive effort to collect phone records of Americans and the e-mails and other communications of foreigners by the National Security Agency.

At a dinner Friday night honoring former CIA Director Michael Hayden, the DNI acknowledged his tough few days with a quip: “So many emails to read, so little time.”

But Clapper had serious comments about what he called “the elephant in the room.”

He said the unauthorized disclosure of the secret spy programs was “reprehensible and egregious,” a comment which drew applause from the mostly current and former intelligence officers who filled the ballroom for the Intelligence and National Security Alliance  awards ceremony.

Referring to what President Barack Obama had said earlier in the day, Clapper maintained the programs were legal, had been authorized by Congress after much debate and they provided valuable intelligence that has helped keep the nation safe and secure.

After the brief diversion, Clapper then went on to pay tribute to the guest of honor, Michael Hayden.

Hayden himself is very familiar with controversy generated from the unauthorized leak of a surveillance program.

In 2005, the New York Times exposed the domestic warrantless wiretap program Hayden had initiated when he was Director of the National Security Agency during the Bush administration.  The outcry over that program forced the Bush administration to make changes.

At the Friday night dinner, Hayden called the current NSA surveillance programs “descendants” of the one he began.

He referred to President George W. Bush and Obama as being “incredibly different presidents,” but said they had “congruity when facing threats.”

Hayden went on to chastise what he called the “political elites” who criticize the intelligence community for not doing enough, but as soon as they feel safe, “pontificate that we’re doing too much.”

But all in all, the controversy generated by the revelations of PRISM and the collection of metadata had Hayden saying it’s “a great day to be a former senior intelligence officer.”

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Filed under: Intelligence • NSA • PRISM
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. David Right

    No HS Diploma, no degree, no military experience, no A+ cert.....its hard to believe a person can get a good paying job with a CV like that? The whole world is so mixed up right now.

    2 Chronicles 16:9 The Message (MSG)

    June 10, 2013 at 9:28 pm | Reply
  2. Joe4857

    Why spy on Americans when they have the IQ of a steaming pile of feces? They think a computer is for Facebook.

    June 10, 2013 at 6:24 pm | Reply
    • USMC1369

      You nailed it, Joe4857. The American public is quite ignorant indeed or there would be this stupid condemnation of Edward Snowden nor support for the right-wing government spying on it's own people. This the right-wing politicians just love!

      June 11, 2013 at 4:41 am | Reply
      • Pete

        @usmc1369,you're right Clapper should tell republicans to pack salt and quit this political charade playing like they care...It's been going on since Nixons Watergate with this ease dropping ,wiretap crap ,privacy infrigement,even tapping Ted Kennedys office wondering if he'd run against Nixon years ago..Where were republicans right after 9/11 when citizens as myself said it violated our rights ,liberties and republicans responded saying we're unpatriotic,unamerican and if we don't like it move..Now the monster the republicans, Bush created has obviously turned on its creator and quess what republicans you can't hand this pile of steaming dung over to Pres.Obama just because he extended it because just like the sequester you so stupidly almost unanimously voted for it'll be your partys death warrents that'll come back to haunt you at midterms and I can't wait to see republicans ,bags in hand going home not to be seen on Capital Hill again!!

        June 12, 2013 at 11:41 am |
      • Todd

        This may have been started by the right... I see those on the left supporting this now. Then Senators Biden and Obama stated that this type of gathering of data was unacceptable... Funny how they have changed their tune. The fact that they are now in support of this smacks of hypocrisy.

        June 12, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  3. David Right

    A Sys Ad (server slave) can put a major program in the hurt locker? IA departments worldwide need to seriously look into centralization, virtualization and dumb terminals. PM's must reduce the number of folks with access to sensitive material. Increase bandwidth, decrease personnel on site, remote admin functions and continuously monitoring system usage is the only way to stop leaks. Can Nooks be hacked? Are proxies safe to use? How is it you can type your social media name into the internet and pull up everything you ever wrote? If you comment on a newspaper article you can see what you wrote by typing the name you used to make the comment into a browser. You can do all this without the Gov. We live in interesting times.

    June 10, 2013 at 5:09 pm | Reply
  4. Dennis

    The elephant in the room is Clapper's history with the same Firm that this Leaker was working at. They are living on the Billions of Taxpayer Dollars they get ever year. Clapper has dirt on his hands and has a conflict of interest. His predecessor now works for the same Corporation.

    June 10, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Reply
  5. Mike Lake Orion Michigan

    Someone is lying here. Obama said Congress was briefed on the NSA program. The sorry part of this equation is we will never know. No Politician is able to tell the truth anymore. What is so hard about being honest today?

    June 10, 2013 at 9:42 am | Reply
    • Portland tony

      Politicians have been playing with the truth for centuries. The NSA policy may well be ruled illegal. Point here is: does a person with a Top Secret clearance who disagrees with a sensitive classified policy have the right to reveal our nations secrets based upon one's personal conviction.?

      June 10, 2013 at 10:46 am | Reply
      • USMC1371

        No they do not....this coward needs to be hunted down and put in on trial for treason.

        June 10, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
      • George Patton-2

        This man Edward Snowden deserves a gold medal for what he did! Despite all the right-wing bla-bla-bla to the contrary, he did us all a great service by exposing those worthless goons at the Pentagon for needlessly spying on us. I'm sick and tired of this right-wing lynch mob mentality here which amounts to no more than mass ignorance!!!

        June 10, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
      • USMC1371

        Then why did he go to Hong Kong to do it? Because he knew he was wrong!!

        June 10, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
      • Freedom Lover

        As you say, politicians play with the truth. This is the reason why citizens who are in a position to know the truth sometimes have to take extraordinary action to bring out the truth despite the fearsome power of the politicians. We Americans did not know what the awful truth was until it was revealed by this whistle blower.

        June 10, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
      • someone

        He went to Hong Kong because he knew he would be arrested if he didn't AND because he believes that blowing this particular whistle does not justify his being thrown in prison. The fact of the matter is that this reflects a failure of all three branches of government: the NSA (the Executive) for pursuing such broad access, the Congress for enabling it with legislation, and the Judiciary for giving it the green light.

        June 12, 2013 at 10:37 am |
      • Pete

        @George Patton2,if he's such a hero in your eyes than why run..Come home and go hand in hand with the Pauls to Capital Hill and get his freakin medal for telling something public that's been supposidly secret for so long!!This isn't secret with wiretaps,ease dropping and George if you're such a patriot than you've got nothing to hide from Big Brother do yah!!And George if you don't like what's been going on since before you were hatched move to another country where no electronic communications are allowed ,at least private like in Russia,China and all those supposidly great countries!!Get a travel guide for you and Snowden as well,flack jackets wouldn't hurt either!!

        June 12, 2013 at 11:51 am |
  6. massoud

    "Elephant in the room", more like Big Brother in the Room, I never Knew George Orwells 1984 was a non fiction book.

    June 10, 2013 at 12:19 am | Reply
  7. jeff

    The amount of it is, if the majority vote the Devil to be God, the minority will live and behave accordingly — and obey the successful candidate, trusting that, some time or other, by some Speaker's casting-vote, perhaps, they may reinstate God.

    Henry David Thoreau - Just as true today as it was then.

    June 9, 2013 at 8:47 pm | Reply
  8. jonat

    Perjured Clapper asks perjured Holder to arrest whoever told the truth

    June 9, 2013 at 7:53 pm | Reply
  9. Portland tony

    Although I'm dubious and really haven't read the fine print relating to the NSA's electronic "surveillance program", there is one thing I do understand, the program was classified as "Top Secret". "Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former undercover CIA employee, unmasked himself Sunday as the principal source of recent Washington Post and Guardian disclosures about top-secret National Security Agency programs." I don't care if you're god himself and you are totally opposed to the policies of the US, you have no right to give "comfort and aid" to the enemies of our country. This situation could have been handled much differently without committing treason!

    June 9, 2013 at 5:30 pm | Reply
    • Portland tony

      Sorry folks, I didn't post the above. I say that Edward Snowden did the right thing here. We have a right to know just what's going on. In fact, Russia today has a more open government than we do with all the backroom deals going on in Washington!

      June 9, 2013 at 10:11 pm | Reply
      • Portland tony

        Not Portand tony at 10:11. Fool, get your own handle....@CNN trace this phony or I will get his IP address

        June 9, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
  10. F-111

    What is going on!?

    June 9, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Reply
  11. Navyvet8192

    9 posts, but only 1 visible,.... Enough said!

    June 9, 2013 at 7:46 am | Reply
  12. George Patton

    What would one expect from this clown? Of course he's going to defend this obscene spying on ordinary citizens who may or may not like these obnoxious wars that we're in!

    June 9, 2013 at 3:49 am | Reply

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