What's that about London?
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is a busy man, but he might want to read a bit more news, or get some new briefers. An interview he taped on Monday—along with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Chief Counterterrorism Adviser John Brennan—appeared last night on ABC World News. Unfortunately, he didn’t seem to be aware of Monday’s arrests of twelve men suspected of being involved in a bomb plot. Sawyer asked Brennan, “First of all, London. How serious is it? Any implication that it was coming here?” Clapper responded, after an awkward silence, “London?” Granted, the interview was filmed on the same day the plot was foiled, but the arrests were made before dawn that morning. Sawyer followed up a bit later with “I was a little surprised you didn't know about London,” to which Clapper said he was sorry.
The DNI’s office issued a statement that said Sawyer’s question was “ambiguous” and assured everyone that Brennan’s “knowledge of the threat streams in Europe is profound and multi-dimensional, and any suggestion otherwise is inaccurate.” But, as it turns out, he simply didn’t know about London. A spokeswoman for the office said, “Director Clapper had not yet been briefed on the arrests in the United Kingdom at the time of this interview taping.”
John Brennan addressed the Clapper situation after the interview aired and admitted that the DNI should have been briefed on the issues, but said that Clapper's focus of late had been on places like the Korean peninsula. According to Brennan, “as of that time, there was nothing that the DNI needed to do or to be engaged in that would have required him to set aside other pressing intelligence matters to get briefed on things that were being put out in the press.” In the same press conference, Brennan also said that here at home, agencies would be ramping up security during the holidays. He noted that “What we want to do is let the American people know we are on the job” and assured the public that we’re “in a much better position today” than we were last year when the underwear bomber tried to take down an airplane.
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is on his way back to the United States after a trip to North Korea. The State Department’s spokesman, PJ Crowley, said that Richardson hadn't had any contact with the department since he left for Asia, and that the governor is not scheduled to meet with any State officials. But, “it could well be that he will reach out to us and provide his perspective on his visit.” When asked if the State Department encouraged or discouraged “freelance” diplomacy of this sort, Crowley responded that the administration does neither: “Whenever Americans have the opportunity to travel there, they may gain insights. In many cases, they pass their perspective to us based on what they see and what they heard.” And that’s that.
Make way, General Petraeus. MTV’s college network, mtvU, has named Defense Secretary Robert Gates its man of the year. MTV’s general manager explained why: “when you look at what he's done, especially this year ... he's really a role model as a public servant who has avoided the partisan rhetoric.” Nicki Minaj, a hip-hop artist from Trinidad, is mtvU’s woman of the year.