General James Patton is famous for this advice. Carefully account for and consider all the facts, and all your fears. Armed with this information, make a plan. Then, put aide your fears and attack! James R. Clapper, who is the offspring of an intelligence operative and who has spent his entire life engaged in intelligence, under each and every one of the United States Presidents from Lancer through Renegade, just wrote a book. In it, he gives us something to be afraid of, when he presents a startling and important conclusion.
Well, maybe not so startling for those who have been following, but still.
You will remember when James Clapper as recently retired DNI, and others of nearly his grade, were being questioned by congress (in, I think, at least two separate sets of hearings), and they all said the same thing: The Intelligence Community did not conclude that Russian interference with the US election altered the outcome of that election and put Trump in power. However, that was because the Intelligence Community did not address that question. The IC has nothing to say about the issue, one way or another, because they did not ask that question and, in fact, asking that question at that time would have been problematic.
In Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence, James Clapper states very clearly that in his opinion as the top person in the US Intelligence Community at the time, that yes, the Russian interference determined the outcome, it was sufficient to turn the election to Trump, and had it not happened, had the Russians not interfered, there would be no President Trump.
That is, of course, not all that is in this 400+ page book! As we run of the mill Americans find it more and more important to understand the inner workings of the Intelligence Community, this will become an important touchstone into that process, its history, and its psychology and professional orientation. Clappers book is a must read.
The former Director of National Intelligence’s candid and compelling account of the intelligence community’s successes–and failures–in facing some of the greatest threats to America
When he stepped down in January 2017 as the fourth United States director of national intelligence, James Clapper had been President Obama’s senior intelligence adviser for six and a half years, longer than his three predecessors combined. He led the U.S. intelligence community through a period that included the raid on Osama bin Laden, the Benghazi attack, the leaks of Edward Snowden, and Russia’s influence operation during the 2016 U.S. election campaign. In Facts and Fears, Clapper traces his career through the growing threat of cyberattacks, his relationships with presidents and Congress, and the truth about Russia’s role in the presidential election. He describes, in the wake of Snowden and WikiLeaks, his efforts to make intelligence more transparent and to push back against the suspicion that Americans’ private lives are subject to surveillance. Finally, it was living through Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and seeing how the foundations of American democracy were–and continue to be–undermined by a foreign power that led him to break with his instincts honed through more than five decades in the intelligence profession to share his inside experience.
Clapper considers such controversial questions as, Is intelligence ethical? Is it moral to intercept communications or to photograph closed societies from orbit? What are the limits of what we should be allowed to do? What protections should we give to the private citizens of the world, not to mention our fellow Americans? Are there times when intelligence officers can lose credibility as unbiased reporters of hard truths by inserting themselves into policy decisions?
Facts and Fears offers a privileged look inside the U.S. intelligence community and, with the frankness and professionalism for which James Clapper is known, addresses some of the most difficult challenges in our nation’s history.