US agency head quits after reported Rumsfeld clash
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of the U.S. intelligence
agency that analyzes data from military spy satellites and U2
aircraft will leave his post in June, officials said on Friday.
James Clapper, a retired Air Force general, will step down
as director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency on
June 13, three months short of his fifth anniversary as head of
the defense department operation, officials said.
The Baltimore Sun, which first reported Clapper’s
departure, said the NGA director was being forced out after
angering Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on an issue
involving intelligence reform.
Defense Department and NGA officials declined to comment on
the Sun article.
Rumsfeld appointed Clapper to the post on September 13,
2001, two days after the September 11 attacks.
“We always anticipated it would be about a five-year tour
of duty,” said NGA spokesman David Burpee. “He’s always served
at the pleasure of the secretary of defense.”
The Sun quoted an unnamed former official as saying that
Clapper earned Rumsfeld’s ire in 2004 by telling Congress his
agency would not be ill-served by the creation of a director of
national intelligence, or DNI, a post created by post-September
11 reforms that was initially opposed by Pentagon officials.
John Negroponte, confirmed by the Senate as the first DNI
in April, has been given authority over all 15 intelligence
agencies, including NGA and others that operate as part of the
Negroponte’s office had no immediate comment on Clapper’s
Clapper, 64, credited with retooling the U.S. geospatial
intelligence mission for the U.S. war on terrorism, was not
available for comment.
A commission formed by Congress in 2000 to review
shortcomings in geospatial intelligence recommended that the
director of NGA’s forerunner, the National Imagery and Mapping
Agency, serve for not less than five years.
Clapper’s initial term was set at three years, but annual
extensions have kept him in the post up to now. He learned of
his departure date from the Defense Department in October and
informed NGA staff in an email message late last year.