Obama administration officials to brief intelligence committees on Benghazi
Extensive damage at U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya following September 11th attack
November 8th, 2012
05:53 PM ET

Obama administration officials to brief intelligence committees on Benghazi

By Pam Benson

Senior intelligence, State Department and FBI officials can expect to be grilled next week as congressional hearings resume on the terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya that killed four Americans.

Lawmakers want answers to many outstanding questions surrounding the September 11 armed assault on the diplomatic facility and a CIA annex in Benghazi.

Specifically, they want to know who was responsible, whether it was planned, the intelligence reporting on the threat to Libya prior the attack, and whether security was adequate.

The Senate Intelligence Committee will conduct a closed-door hearing on November 15. Scheduled witnesses include Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director David Petraeus, Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy, FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce and National Counterterrorism Center Director Matt Olsen.

Clapper, Petraeus and Olsen will also testify behind closed doors to the House Intelligence Committee on the same day.

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Intelligence budget continues to drop
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifies before Congress
October 30th, 2012
02:26 PM ET

Intelligence budget continues to drop

By Pam Benson

Spending by the intelligence community dropped for the second year in a row following the dramatic increases in the  years after the 2001 terrorist attacks and it's a trend that will continue.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper released a statement on Tuesday revealing the budget for national intelligence programs in fiscal year 2012 was $53.9 billion, a 1 percent decrease from the previous year. 

And according to the Defense Department, the amount spent for military intelligence dropped by 10 percent to $21.5 billion.

The overall spending of $75.4 billion in 2012 represents a 4% cut in intelligence spending.

The fiscal year ended on September 30.

Overall intelligence spending peaked in fiscal year 2010 when the United States spent a total of $80.1 billion.

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October 12th, 2012
06:16 PM ET

Spy chief gets Zen

By Pam Benson

You usually don't associate spying with being Zen, but that's exactly what the nation's chief intelligence officer did this week at an intelligence gathering in Orlando, Florida.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was the keynote speaker at the annual Geoint Symposium and what the audience of intelligence officers, contractors and academics heard probably rank as one of the more unusual presentations.

Clapper unfurled some "heavy philosophy" as he told the audience what intelligence professionals could learn from motorcyclists. And he tied it all together with a reference to Robert Pirsig's nearly 40 year old best seller, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," which is more a discourse of life philosophy than motorcycles.

It's all, Clapper explained, about finding the elusive "Truth."

These initial comments set up the body of his speech which focused on what he feels is his primary mission as DNI–the integration of all facets of intelligence gathering.

Here are Clapper's remarks:

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Clapper:  Sequestration disastrous for intelligence programs
DNI James Clapper speaking at the Geoint Symposium in Orlando, Florida
October 10th, 2012
11:16 AM ET

Clapper: Sequestration disastrous for intelligence programs

By Pam Benson

Looming across-the-board cuts to the intelligence community budget will be devastating if Congress fails to act according to the nation's top intelligence officer.

"If sequestration is allowed to happen, it will be disastrous for intelligence," Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a group of intelligence officers and contractors gathered at a conference in Orland on Tuesday.

Clapper said every major intelligence program is "in jeopardy of being wounded" because the budget deal Congress passed last year does not allow the intelligence community any flexibility to prioritize needs.

"The current arrangement pre supposes that everything we do in intelligence is of equal import and we all know that's not the case,' Clapper said.

The cuts would be approximately 10% and would impact programs as well as personnel.
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Filed under: Congress • Intelligence • James Clapper • NGA • Sequestration
October 9th, 2012
05:45 PM ET

Intel chief on criticisms about Benghazi: "Enough already"

By Suzanne Kelly

The top U.S. intelligence official said on Tuesday there was no obvious warning ahead of the deadly attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and rebuffed criticism of the intelligence community's initial assessment of the incident.

James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, said in raw and revealing remarks to a group of intelligence professionals and contractors in Orlando that there is a "message" the intelligence community has learned since the September 11 attack that is "applicable to the executive and legislative branches of government" as well as to members of the media.

U.S. intelligence has been sharply criticized by some members of Congress who allege the Obama administration did not come out soon enough and identify the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans as a planned, terrorist assault.

Clapper said an increased security risk is the new normal overseas, and that people need to understand what intelligence can and cannot do.
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Senate moves to crack down on national security leaks
July 26th, 2012
03:32 AM ET

Senate moves to crack down on national security leaks

By Suzanne Kelly

The Senate committee that oversees the country's spy agencies has approved 12 tough new measures aimed at stopping leaks of classified information.

Among the stiff new reporting requirements are crackdowns on communications between intelligence employees and members of the media, requiring a government official to notify Congress if the communication includes classified information or information that is declassified for the purposes of sharing.

The measures included in the Fiscal Year 2013 Intelligence Authorization Act come amid heightened criticism of the Obama administration for officials sharing classified information with journalists about key national security matters.

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First on CNN: Scoop on inside discussions over proposed leak provisions
Top leadership of Senate and House intelligence committees discuss concerns over leaks
July 5th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

First on CNN: Scoop on inside discussions over proposed leak provisions

by Suzanne Kelly

Discussions are ongoing over just how stringent new provisions should be as the Senate targets leakers in its upcoming Intelligence Authorization bill, according to a government source.

Many of the options up for consideration put far stricter limits on communications between intelligence officials and reporters, according to the source, who told CNN that early proposals included requiring government employees who provide background briefings to reporters to notify members of Congress ahead of time.

Such background meetings are not widely seen as opportunities to discuss classified programs. Reporters routinely use background briefings to gather contextual information on stories they are covering.

According to the government source, there were also discussions about consolidating some of the press offices within the intelligence community, limiting the number of people who are available to answer common media inquiries.

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FIRST ON CNN: Intel chief rolls out new measures aimed at plugging leaks
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper
June 25th, 2012
10:34 AM ET

FIRST ON CNN: Intel chief rolls out new measures aimed at plugging leaks

By Suzanne Kelly

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is rolling out new measures Monday aimed at ending what recently has been a spate of leaks regarding classified programs and operations.

Among Clapper's recommendations, to be instituted across the 16 intelligence agencies, are an enhanced counterintelligence polygraph test for employees who have access to classified information, and the establishment of a task force of intelligence community inspectors general that will have the ability to conduct independent investigations across agencies in coordination with the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive.

Clapper has also called for a review of current policies that relate to interaction with members of the media, and how that interaction must be reported.

The new question that will be added to the current counterintelligence polygraph test - which intelligence community employees who handle classified information are required to take - will specifically ask whether the employee has disclosed classified information to a member of the media.

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FIRST ON CNN: Director of national intelligence expected to roll out new measures against leaks
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper
June 25th, 2012
02:00 AM ET

FIRST ON CNN: Director of national intelligence expected to roll out new measures against leaks

By Suzanne Kelly

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is expected to roll out new measures aimed at ending leaks of classified information after a spate of recent leaks.

Those leaks affected an ongoing intelligence operation against the al Qaeda arm in Yemen back in May, and included recent disclosures about the classified drone program and a cyber warfare program known as Stuxnet, aimed at an Iranian nuclear enrichment facility.

A source tells CNN that Clapper believes the source of such leaks span multiple government agencies, departments and branches of government.

While the new measures are expected to apply only to the intelligence community that Clapper oversees, they are not expected to apply to members of the National Security Council, who advise the president on sensitive and classified programs.

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