The top senator on the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee on Friday praised the president's nominee to head the nation's intelligence efforts.
On Friday, President Barack Obama picked Gen. James Clapper (Ret.), a former defense undersecretary for intelligence, to be the next director of national intelligence (DNI). Clapper will replace Adm. Dennis Blair, who resigned the post under pressure in mid-May. Clapper is set to become the fourth director since the post was created in 2004.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) says Clapper has the experience and clout necessary to get the job done.
“I applaud the president's reported nomination of retired Gen. James R. Clapper," Lieberman said in a statement. "We need a strong DNI who can coordinate the efforts of our 16 different intelligence agencies to confront terrorism and other national security threats to our nation. Gen. Clapper has vast experience in the intelligence community, has a proven record as an administrator and has always been a proponent of a strong DNI."
Congress has pressured the White House to appoint an official who has enough gravitas to stabilize the position. Some have questioned whether or not the DNI's powers and roles have been clearly defined enough to carry out its mission.
Clapper has a long resume in the intelligence community, prior to manning his undersecretary post, he served as a lieutenant general in the Air Force and also served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.
The White House will likely welcome Lieberman's support; he has sometimes criticized the White House's homeland security and intelligence strategy.
Lieberman said he looks forward to "working with him to determine
whether the DNI needs additional authorities in order to lead and
integrate the intelligence community.”
But Clapper could face tough partisan opposition from Republicans in Congress.
Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) and Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the top GOPers on the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, have criticizes Clapper in the past, saying he does not favor sharing information with Congress and that he does not have the clout to reform the position.