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.
James Clapper served from 2010 – 2017 as the Director of National Intelligence. In that position, he led the United States intelligence community and served as the principal intelligence advisor to the President. Previously, Clapper served in two administrations as the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, where he was the principal staff assistant and advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense on intelligence, counterintelligence, and security matters for the Department. In this capacity, he was also dual-hatted as the Director of Defense Intelligence for DNI. Earlier, he directed the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), transforming it into the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) as it is today. He also served as a consultant and advisor to Congress and to the Departments of Defense and Energy and as a member of a wide variety of government panels, boards, commissions, and advisory groups. Clapper, who began his military career as a rifleman in the U.S. Marine Corps, served two combat tours during the Southeast Asia conflict and flew 73 combat support missions in EC-47s over Laos and Cambodia. He was Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence at U.S. Air Force Headquarters during Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm and Director of Intelligence for three war-fighting commands: U.S. Forces Korea, Pacific Command, and Strategic Air Command. Following his retirement from military service in 1995, Clapper worked in the private sector for six years as an executive in three companies focused on services for the intelligence community. He was a member of the Downing Assessment Task Force that investigated the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996, and was vice chairman of a commission chaired by former Gov. Jim Gilmore of Virginia on the subject of homeland security. Clapper earned a bachelor’s degree in government and politics from the University of Maryland, a master’s degree in political science from St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas, and an honorary doctorate from the Joint Military Intelligence College. His awards include three National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medals, two Defense Distinguished Service Medals, the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Coast Guard’s Distinguished Public Service Award, and the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award. He has also received the NAACP’s National Distinguished Service Award and the Presidentially-conferred National Security Medal.