When President Obama named retired Air Force Lt. General James R. Clapper to replace Dennis Blair as the Director of National Intelligence, I had never heard of him. If Pete Hoekstra opposed him, however, as he did, I thought there must be reasonable ground for believing Clapper might not be the man for the job.
Hoekstra was the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee and a serious man. Politico reported that Hoekstra had related the existence of “bipartisan opposition” to Clapper’s nomination, and complained that Clapper failed to brief Congress on “an extraordinarily sensitive program.”
Politico’s report also suggested that several more prominent candidates for the position declined it. They apparently prefer not to play second banana to the CIA in the bureaucratic turf wars that the position entails. The CIA was happy with Clapper. Politico pointed out that CIA Director Leon Panetta, who clashed with Blair, praised Claper’s nomination, calling Clapper “a highly qualified intelligence professional” who “[t]he men and women of the CIA look forward to working closely with … to strengthen America’s national security.”
Both Clapper and Panetta appear to be in over their heads. Or maybe it’s just the Obama administration.
Yesterday Panetta announced that Hosni Mubarak would likely be leaving office later in the day. By the end of the day, Mubarak was still there. Our Egyptian intelligence is obviously not all that it might be. What compelled Panetta to open his trap and prove it?
And yesterday Clapper told a House Intelligence Committee hearing that the Egyptian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood — which seeks to render Egypt an Islamic state ruled by sharia law — is “a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam.”
Andy McCarthy’s comment on Clapper recalls Jack Paar: “I kid you not.” He calls Clapper’s congressional caper “willful stupidity.”
As we have observed, however, the Obama administration appears to be working behind the scenes to include the Muslim Brotherhood in Egyptian politics. As for the Brotherhood’s alleged renunciation of violence, funny that the Brotherhood’s Hamas branch hasn’t gotten the word.
You’d think the DNI might notice that. The American intelligence community badly needs The Muslim Brotherhood for Dummies. Unfortunately, the book doesn’t exist, but Dore Gold did his best to fill the void with a brief backgrounder including this nugget (footnote omitted):
The current Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Muhammad Badi’, gave a sermon in September 2010 stating that Muslims today “need to understand that the improvement and change that the [Muslim] nation seeks can only be attained through jihad and sacrifice and by raising a jihadi generation that pursues death, just as the enemies pursue life.” In short, the Muslim Brotherhood remains committed to supporting militant activities in order to advance its political aims. From looking at the biographies of its most prominent graduates, one can immediately understand the organization’s long-term commitment to jihadism.
If you have been paying attention, you might conclude that Clapper’s congressional caper reveals the thinking behind the Obama administration’s efforts in Egypt. It serves to remind us that the Obama administration is, almost incredibly, promoting the participation of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egyptian politics. That, it seems to me, is the true significance of Clapper’s clueless comments.
NOTE: I see that I am following Aaron Goldstein’s train of thought: “I can only imagine what Sgt. Joe Friday would have thought of the absurdity of it all” (video here).
UPDATE: Barry Rubin writes: “Unlike the American leadership, Mubarak and his colleagues know that the Muslim Brotherhood is not a group of social welfare advocates or moderate reformers.”