Obama to unveil new intelligence chief

US president Barack Obama is today set to nominate James Clapper, the Pentagon’s top intelligence official, to oversee the nation’s 16 spy agencies.

US president Barack Obama is today set to nominate James Clapper, the Pentagon’s top intelligence official, to oversee the nation’s 16 spy agencies.

Mr Obama is expected to announce the nomination of the retired Air Force three-star general, as national intelligence director in a Rose Garden event.

Mr Clapper will replace retired Admiral Dennis Blair, who resigned last month after frequent clashes with the White House.

The move comes despite objections by some politicians in both parties, who complained that Mr Clapper had been combative and sometimes obstructive under questioning on Capitol Hill in his previous intelligence roles.

His critics also question whether the former general will have any sway in Obama’s influential intelligence inner circle, which includes senior counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan and CIA Director Leon Panetta.

The position of national intelligence director was created in 2004 to co-ordinate the 16 intelligence agencies in an effort to address the intelligence failures that led to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Mr Clapper served as director of the Defence Intelligence Agency, which often works closely with the CIA. In retirement, he became the first civilian director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, with a few years in private sector focusing on intelligence issues in between.

He has won many fans in the military community and is known for his blunt manner of speaking.

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