Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I Knew. You Knew. But the Director of Intelligence Didn't Know?

Yesterday the Obama administration's top anti-terrorism officials--Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, chief counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano--gave an interview to ABC's Diane Sawyer on the current state of the terrorist threat. The interview has aired, or will air, today; you can watch it here.

The questions and answers are unremarkable, except that there is a surreal moment near the end of the interview, when it becomes apparent that DNI Clapper was unaware that twelve would-be terrorists were arrested in Great Britain yesterday. Brennan jumped in to help him out, but Sawyer came back to the question later, and Clapper admitted that he hadn't heard about the arrests.

This was one of those outer space moments that are hard to fathom. The arrests were widely reported. I knew about them; Diane Sawyer knew about them; you likely did, too. Is it conceivable that the Director of National Intelligence doesn't get a daily briefing? Or that he is not briefed on likely questions before giving a network television interview? Apparently so.

It's a trite observation, but God only knows what would have happened if something like this had taken place during the Bush administration.

(John Hinderaker, Power Line)