Russia, China Major Threats? Intel Director Clapper’s Comments Perplex Senators

The Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, is in the limelight after remarks he made on Thursday. Under testimony for the Senate Armed Services Committees, Clapper singled out China and Russia as the two countries representing the  greatest threat to the United States. From ABC News:

He added that China “is growing in its military capabilities. It has a full array of, whether conventional or strategic forces, that they are building. So they too do pose, potentially from a capabilities standpoint, a threat to us as a mortal threat.”

Clapper said he based his assessment strictly on the strategic nuclear capabilities of nation-states that have the potential to be mortal dangers to the U.S. and, “the two that come to mind because of their capabilities are Russia and China.”

Though Iran and North Korea were “of great concern,” he said, they do not pose a threat to the continental United States.

[Senator] Manchin rephrased his question to ask which country had the intent to be our greatest adversary.

Clapper replied, “Probably China.”

These answers came as a surprise for many. In addition to this, Clapper made other controversial remarks, including predicting that Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi will probably prevail over rebel forces. Clapper’s comments seem to undermine the Obama Administration’s positions of strengthening ties with China-Russia and also supporting  the Libyan rebels. Clapper is now facing criticism from various Senators for his comments, including some calling for his resignation. From Politico:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Clapper should resign or be fired from his job, and wanted President Barack Obama to “repudiate” statements made by Clapper in recent months.

“I don’t have confidence that this gentleman understands what his job is all about and how his words affect the world as it is,” the South Carolina Republican told Fox News on Thursday.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) did not join Graham in calling for Clapper’s ouster, but conceded that his testimony was problematic. “I’m not going to comment [on resignation] right now. On the question of the two nations with the greatest intent to harm ours, I do not believe they are China or Russia, so I do not understand why that was put out there. So, that’s a problem,” Feinstein said. Feinstein is the chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

To see a video of Clapper’s testimony, see here.

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