Friday, March 11, 2011

James Clapper: Qaddafi, Social Network Will Win


WASHINGTON -- In open testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Muammar Qaddafi would prevail in the Libyan civil war and The Social Network would win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

As in previous hearings, Clapper's comments provoked immediate controversy. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) stated, "You just undercut every American diplomatic effort to convince a murderous dictator to step down, and you pulled the rug out from under every Libyan now risking his or her life for freedom. You do know this is an open hearing being broadcast throughout the world, right?"

Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) echoed Graham's criticism. "You're making it pretty hard for us to keep covering for you, Jim. And for God's sake, don't answer Lindsey's question."

It was Clapper's comments about the hit film The Social Network, however, that truly sparked the ire of Sen. Graham. A transcript of the relevant exchange follows:

GRAHAM: How can you not know the Oscars were given out almost two weeks ago?

CLAPPER: Senator, it is the consensus opinion of the national intelligence community that the 83rd Annual Academy Awards ceremony has not, in fact, taken place.

GRAHAM: So The King's Speech didn't really win Best Picture?

CLAPPER: Senator, our analysts feel that a mercy Oscar in a technical category is the likeliest outcome for that film.

When asked about this exchange, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney stated, "Vice President Biden has full faith and confidence in Director Clapper. Oh, wait. You were asking about the president. Let me get back to you."

Today's comments were not the first brush with controversy for Director Clapper. In February, he provoked a firestorm with his claim that the Muslim Brotherhood was a "largely secular" organization. A spokesperson for the National Intelligence Coordination Center later clarified that Clapper had meant to say the Brotherhood was a "largely spectacular" organization.

In related testimony during the Senate hearing today, Clapper revealed the U.S. intelligence community now believes that most members of the Muslim Brotherhood are not actual brothers. "Though some members may well be connected in a familial fashion," Clapper explained, "recent communication intercepts indicate the Muslim Brotherhood is actually an umbrella organization that includes many people, from many countries, who may or may not be related."

Current Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and rumored Clapper replacement Leon Panetta refused to comment on this story, explaining that he had not yet watched analysis of the hearing on CNN.