McCain places hold on Clapper nomination

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has placed a hold on President Obama's nominee to serve as director of national intelligence (DNI), his spokeswoman said Monday.

Spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan confirmed a report that that the Arizona senator has requested a report from retired Gen. James Clapper, and said "until that report is provided Senator McCain will continue to hold his nomination."

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The hold, a procedural tool individual senators can use to block nominations, could push Clapper's confirmation vote before the full Senate past the August recess, which begins this weekend. 

In a unanimous vote last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, of which McCain is a member, backed Clapper's nomination, leading observers to believe that he would be easily confirmed this week.

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said the administration is "eager to work with Senator McCain in an effort to answer additional questions beyond those already discussed" but "cannot accept further delay of this critical nomination."

"The Senate Intelligence Committee’s unanimous approval of Mr. Clapper’s nomination last week – after hours of testimony and countless documents were provided to the Committee – is a testament to the fact that he is one of our nation’s most experienced and respected intelligence professionals," he said.

Obama chose Clapper in June to replace retired Adm. Dennis Blair, who stepped down from the post in May. Blair took flak for intelligence failures leading up to the 2009 Christmas Day airline bombing attempt. 

If confirmed, Clapper would become the fourth DNI since the position was created in 2005 to help reform the U.S. intelligence bureaucracy. 

Clapper would also take office following the leak of 92,000 secret documents to the organization WikiLeaks. The papers detail Pakistani intelligence agents' efforts to work with Islamic extremists operating in Afghanistan while the country was receiving U.S. anti-terror aid, among other revelations about the conflict.

Sam Youngman contributed.

This post was updated at 7:18 p.m.