President Obama's Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, was called to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee today, and stupidly tried to give an honest assessment of difficult foreign policy situations in response to questions asking for that. Now he's in big trouble, or at least Lindsey Graham wants him to resign.
When asked to assess the situation in Libya, Clapper was supposed to say something like, "Oh yeah, Libya, Qaddafi should be gone any second! Just you watch as those rebels give him the boot and win freedom forever." Instead he said that, well, Qaddafi's basically winning. From ABC News:
"We don't think he has any intention — despite the press speculation to the contrary — of leaving," Clapper said. "From all the evidence we have ... he appears to be hunkering down for the duration."
In Clapper's view, the situation in Libya will come down to who has the greater logistical resources at hand and, Clapper said, "I think that, from a standpoint of attrition, that over time [with] this kind of a stalemate back and forth ... I think in the longer term that the regime will prevail. "
He added that Qaddafi has two brigades with the best weaponry that are extremely loyal to him — that's why they have the best weaponry.
Sen. Lindsey Graham was furious at Clapper for trying to answer this question honestly based on what he's been seeing. He released a statement calling for Clapper's resignation over this and an answer to a separate stupid question asking him to identify the country's greatest "mortal threats" (Russia and China, he said, which is objectively true.) Here's Graham's take on the Libya question, via Politico:
"The situation in Libya remains tenuous and the director's comments today on Qadhafi's ‘staying power' are not helpful to our national security interests. His comments will make the situation more difficult for those opposing Qadhafi. It also undercuts our national efforts to bring about the desired result of Libya moving from dictator to democracy."
Okay! Then stop holding hearings where you ask intelligence directors questions about fluid, sensitive situations that should be discussed behind closed doors; and don't engage them in intellectual exercises about which countries will probably end up nuking us to death in the end when all you want to hear is "Iran and North Korea are bad."
[Images of Qaddafi and Clapper (inset) via AP]