Clapper flunks ABC's quiz on London terror case
The head of U.S. intelligence, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper Jr., went blank when asked about a roundup of suspected terrorists in London that had happened only hours earlier.
ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer’s Monday interview with Clapper, the director of national intelligence, along with homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano and White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan, aired on Tuesday night.
The arrest of 12 suspects in London had occurred earlier on Monday, when the three were interviewed together.
"First of all, London," Sawyer said. "How serious is it? Any implication that it was coming here? ... Director Clapper?"
Clapper hesitated for several seconds, clearly having no clue what Sawyer was talking about.
"London?" he asked. Seven seconds had passed. The intelligence boss looked to Brennan for a lifeline.
Brennan started explaining the arrests that morning.
“Oh ” Clapper said, nodding, hands on his thighs.
Later in the interview, Sawyer returned to the subject.
"I was a little surprised you didn't know about London," Sawyer told Clapper.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't," he said, shaking his head.
Brennan said the question was too “vague.”
Brennan and Napolitano said that the alleged plot would not have threatened the United States.
A spokesperson for the DNI later said, "The question about this specific news development was ambiguous. The DNI's knowledge of the threat streams in Europe is profound and multi-dimensional, and any suggestion otherwise is inaccurate."
Asked whether there were any current threats, Napolitano said U.S. intelligence was picking up “a lot of chatter” but “nothing specific and credible.”
“You all sleep well at night?” Sawyer next asked all three.
“When we get to sleep,” Clapper said, “yes we do.”
| December 21, 2010; 9:00 PM ET
Categories: Homeland Security, Intelligence, Media
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