Obama Said to Pick Clapper as Intelligence Director

President Barack Obama intends to nominate James Clapper, the under secretary of defense for intelligence, as national intelligence director, according to an administration official.

Clapper would replace Dennis Blair, a retired admiral who resigned last month, said the official, who asked not to be named because Obama’s choice hasn’t been announced.

Clapper would be the top manager of U.S. spy operations, overseeing 16 U.S. intelligence agencies with a combined budget of $47.5 billion. He declined to comment when reached by e-mail.

A retired Air Force lieutenant general, Clapper has been in the Pentagon’s top intelligence job since 2007. He also has been director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

Senator Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut independent who is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said Clapper has vast experience in the intelligence community” and “a proven record as an administrator.”

U.S. intelligence agencies have been faulted by critics for failing to head off attempted bombings aboard a Christmas Day passenger flight and in Times Square on May 1. Both plots failed because the bombs didn’t explode.

Congress created the position of national intelligence director in a 2004 law, after the U.S. spy network failed to thwart the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The first director, former ambassador John Negroponte, took office in May 2005.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nicholas Johnston in Washington at njohnston3@bloomberg.net

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