James Clapper, former director of national intelligence under President Barack Obama, will be holding a public address on campus Wednesday.
AU President John Pistole encourages students to take advantage of the public address.
“Clapper will provide valuable insight into the field of national intelligence,” says Pistole. “His time spent sharing his experiences will be a wonderful learning opportunity for our campus community and any who wish to attend.”
The AU National Security Studies Fellows organized Clapper’s visit to the university, and he will also be sharing his experience in a meeting with students majoring in national security studies.
Clapper is a career public servant from Fort Wayne, Indiana. He served in the U.S. Air Force for three decades, spending much of that time working as an intelligence officer. Clapper was sent on two tours of duty in Southeast Asia. Clapper’s experience would lead him into several key positions within the U.S. Intelligence Community.
From 1992 to 1995, Clapper served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, after which he retired from military service as a lieutenant general to work in the private sector for six years.
Following the attacks of 9/11, Clapper was named director of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, where he would serve until June 2006. The agency, which is responsible for the collection and analysis of geospatial intelligence, was renamed the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in 2003.
Clapper was nominated to the position of Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence by President George W. Bush. He was confirmed and served from 2007 to 2010. Clapper would then be nominated by President Obama to be the fourth director of national intelligence, a position that oversees the 17 intelligence agencies that make up the U.S. Intelligence Community. Confirmed unanimously by the Senate, Clapper would serve as director from Aug. 9, 2010 to Jan. 20, 2017.
Clapper has recently been a target of President Trump’s personal Twitter account, as he has been an open critic of Trump.
Following the House Intelligence Committee’s vote to end its internal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Trump took to Twitter to share highlights from the committee’s report on its findings.
Trump tweeted early Friday morning on March 23:
“House Intelligence Committee votes to release final report. FINDINGS: (1) No evidence provided of Collusion between Trump Campaign & Russia. (2) The Obama Administrations Post election response was insufficient. (3) Clapper provided inconsistent testimony on media contacts.”
The report has been criticized by House Democrats for misrepresenting the scope of contact between the Trump campaign and Russians. They argue that the Republican-majority committee left out specific documents and refused to interview certain witnesses.
In an interview on CNN later that Friday, Clapper said he was ultimately blindsided by the accusations.
Dr. Michael Frank, professor of political science, hopes students will attend the address to see past the partisan politics surrounding public servants such as Clapper.
“There is this effort to try to undermine the intelligence community to call into question the legitimacy of the people who are serving,” says Frank. “It really undermines public trust in them.”
These career officials dedicate their lives to the service of their country, Frank explains, and the value of their public service has been unfairly called into question due to recent trends in the politicization of intelligence.
“We would never do that with people serving in uniformed military,” says Frank, “but our national security professionals are serving in exactly the same kind of function, and many of them serving with the risk of life.”
“I think [this public address] puts what you see in the news in kind of a different light,” he says.
AU has also been visited by a number of public servants who served in high leadership positions in government.
Most recently, the university hosted Matt Olsen, the former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, who joined the History and Political Science Department for the commissioning of the new Situation Room in Decker for national securities studies. The former Director of the CIA, John Brennan, also held a public address this semester. AU has previously been visited by former Attorney General Eric Holder and former FBI Director Robert Mueller.
Clapper’s public address is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Wednesday, March 28 in York Performance Hall.