New Director of National Intelligence: Overseeing Aggression Abroad, Repression at Home

Yesterday, President Barack Obama selected retired Air Force Lt. General James R. Clapper Jr. as his nominee as the secret state’s new Director of National Intelligence (DNI).

Obama heaped copious praise on the general in a Rose Garden appearance Saturday. “Jim is one of our nation’s most experienced and most respected intelligence professionals,” Obama said. “He possesses a quality that I value in all my advisers: a willingness to tell leaders what we need to know even if it’s not what we want to hear,” according to a White House transcript of the president’s remarks.

Clapper, who faces a tough confirmation fight in the Senate, would direct the 16-agency U.S. “Intelligence Community.” From his perch in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Clapper would coordinate America’s formidable spy apparatus as it wages a global shadow war to control other people’s resources and secure geostrategic advantage over their imperialist rivals.

The position of DNI was created after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but the Director has neither operational control nor budgetary authority over any of the agencies he oversees as the nation’s top spymaster. Bureaucratic in-fighting and turf battles within the security apparat, particularly with the CIA under Leon Panetta, but also with insiders such as White House counterterrorism adviser, the former CIA torture-enabler, John Brennan, have fueled internecine feuds amongst the various players.

If confirmed by the Senate, Clapper would replace retired Admiral Dennis C. Blair, who was pressured to resign by the Obama regime May 28, over so-called “intelligence failures,” resulting from the aborted Christmas Day attempted bombing aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 over Detroit and the failed May 1 Times Square car bombing.

As Antifascist Calling revealed in a series of articles earlier this year, far from being a failure to “connect the dots,” as with the 9/11 provocation itself, the American secret state possessed sufficient information that should have prevented alleged bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, from boarding that plane and placing the lives of nearly 300 air passengers at risk.

The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), an ODNI fiefdom, was cited for “lapses” and faulted for its failure to collate information in their possession. But as I reported, during January 20 testimony to the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, NCTC head honcho Michael E. Leiter told the panel: “I will tell you, that when people come to the country and they are on the watch list, it is because we have generally made the choice that we want them here in the country for some reason or another.”

Under Secretary of State for Management, Patrick F. Kennedy, testified before the House Homeland Security Committee January 27, that the State Department did not revoke the would-be bomber’s passport at the specific request of U.S. intelligence agencies.

Kennedy claimed that “revocation action would’ve disclosed what they were doing.” The Undersecretary said that allowing the alleged terrorist to keep his visa would have “helped” federal investigators take down the entire network “rather than simply knocking out one solider in that effort.”

While the would-be suicide fanbois kept his passport, one “reform” that the “change” administration implemented was a directive by President Obama authorizing the assassination of American citizens accused of terrorism. Death sentences would be carried out without any legal recourse whatsoever, simply on the basis of unsubstantiated Executive Branch allegations.

Clapper, 69, is a close ally of current Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, a former CIA Director under Poppy Bush and an architect of the Iran-Contra coverup. Currently the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, Clapper replaced Stephen A. Cambone in 2007, a crony of former Secretary of Defense, the unindicted war criminal Donald Rumsfeld.

Like many retired military officials who leverage national “service” as entrée to the lucrative world of outsourced corporate spying, Clapper was the Chief Operating Officer for Detica DFI, a British intelligence and security firm that is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the scandal-tainted BAE Systems.

According to a blurb on the firm’s web site, “Detica specialises in collecting, managing and exploiting information to reveal actionable intelligence.” Doubtless, Clapper found himself right at home.

Last October, the British high-tech news magazine The Register, revealed that Detica and Lockheed Martin had secured a multi-billion pound contract with the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the U.K.’s National Security Agency for work on a domestic snooping project called “Mastering the Internet.” That top secret program is currently developing systems and methods for extracting intelligence from huge volumes of surveillance data generated by online services.

Similar programs are currently underway here in the heimat, many of which are linked to the secretive Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI). Last month’s stand-up of U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) found top Pentagon officials and the defense contractors whom they so loyally serve, floating the idea “that the Defense Department might start a protective program for civilian networks, based on a deeply controversial effort to keep hackers out of the government’s pipes,” Wired reported.

“A 356-page classified plan” journalist Noah Shachtman disclosed, “outlining CYBERCOM’s rise is being put into action.” According to Wired, “procedures are now being worked out for CYBERCOM to help the Department of Homeland Security defend government and civilian networks.”

Wired reported last week that “Joe Lieberman wants to give the federal government the power to take over civilian networks’ security, if there’s an ‘imminent cyber threat.’ It’s part of a draft bill, co-sponsored by Senators Lieberman and Susan Collins, that provides the Department of Homeland Security broad authority to ensure that ‘critical infrastructure’ stays up and running in the face of a looming hack attack.”

Two of the agencies that would fall under Clapper’s brief are DHS and NSA, both of which are charged with “protecting” critical network infrastructure in the unlikely event of a massive cyber attack.

Prior to his current position as Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, between 2001-2006 Clapper was the Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), a DOD combat support agency charged with developing “imagery and map-based intelligence solutions for U.S. national defense, homeland security and safety of navigation.”

Accordingly, NGA “provides timely, relevant and accurate geospatial intelligence in support of national security objectives” gathered by America’s super-secret fleet of spy satellites flown by its “sister” organization, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) as well as imagery and geospatial information derived from drones or other air based U.S. assets.

One can be fairly certain that NGA’s “map-based intelligence solutions” for homeland security have been deployed for domestic repression. As Antifascist Calling reported in 2008, according to a planning document released by the whistleblowing web site Wikileaks, in the run-up to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, NGA was in the thick of things as a gaggle of federal and state law enforcement agencies targeted activists and journalists for preemptive arrest.

Before leading NGA, Clapper was Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the principal producer and manager of military intelligence for the Pentagon. Investigative journalist Tim Shorrock revealed in his essential book, Spies For Hire, that with an annual estimated budget of $1 billion, DIA employs some 11,000 military and civilian personnel, “35 percent of whom are contractors.”

According to Shorrock’s analysis for CorpWatch, principal security corps doing yeoman’s work for DIA include BAE Systems, Booz Allen Hamilton, SAIC, Inc. CACI International, Inc. and L-3 Communications Inc.

In reporting Clapper’s selection as DNI, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have emphasized the general’s “decades of experience” in getting America’s sprawling secret state under Executive Branch control.

According to the Times, Clapper’s announcement amounts “to pushing the reset button for the president,” as Obama tries to “recalibrate” an intelligence and security apparatus that has “undergone continued revamping since the debacle leading up to the Iraq war,” one that “still lacks the cohesion necessary in an evolving war with terrorists.”

The Journal, on the other hand, has stressed that despite “resistance” by Democratic and Republican party grifters on Capitol Hill, Clapper “has significant backing among intelligence professionals, who also note that he is the most experienced individual willing to take the job.”

The Journal reports that one of Clapper’s “earliest moves was to shut a Pentagon database, called TALON, that was supposed to track terrorist threats to military bases but was found to also contain information on antiwar protesters.”

TALON (Threat and Local Observation Notice) was a spying database that was under the operational control of the U.S. Air Force. It was authorized by neocon warmonger and serial intelligence fabricator, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz in 2002. By 2004 however, TALON became the “property” of the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), a secretive and heavily-outsourced Pentagon satrapy run by Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, Stephen A. Cambone.

Following media revelations of the program, in 2007 The National Security Archive published a series of documents outlining CIFA’s illegal domestic operations; surveillance that continues today under new Pentagon programs authorized by Obama’s discredited “change” regime, as revealed last summer by Democracy Now!.

While the Journal is technically correct that the TALON database was removed from CIFA’s control by Clapper, the TALON system itself was offloaded, as I previously reported back in 2008, to the FBI and now reside in a Bureau database known as Guardian and e-Guardian.

Even though CIFA has since been supplanted by the DIA’s Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center (DCHC), SourceWatch revealed that “in accordance with intelligence oversight requirements,” DOD “will maintain a record copy of the collected data,” including data illegally collected on antiwar activists, continues to exist somewhere deep in the bowels of the Pentagon for future reference.

Whether or not Clapper is confirmed by the Senate, illegal wars of aggression will continue; drones will still rain death and destruction upon unarmed civilians; America’s pit bull in the Middle East, Israel, will carry out international acts of piracy and murder on the high seas with impunity as Gaza starves; and the Executive Branch will complete the destruction of the Constitution and the rule of law at home to “keep us safe.”

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His articles are published in many venues. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military "Civil Disturbance" Planning, distributed by AK Press. Read other articles by Tom, or visit Tom's website.

2 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. t4too said on June 7th, 2010 at 12:12pm #

    I’m too flabbergasted by how viciously fascistic Obama turns out to be that I’m speechless. Can’t really think of anything to add to Burghardt’s report.

    Oh, wait, I do have a question: what pray tell is a “fanbois” in this context? I looked it up in the Urbandictionary site, but saw nothing that seemed related. Or is it just that I’m so behind the curve of Hiphopspeak that I no longer understand everyday english as spoken by the average American?

  2. mary said on June 17th, 2010 at 6:41am #

    Whoever fancies applying for this new job see Mr Lieberman for details -

    “The Director of the National Center for
    Cybersecurity and Communications’’

    http://www.coia.org.uk/pdf/cyberbill.pdf

    Orwell lives. Will we still be communicating freely with each other in the not too distant future?