Secretary of Defense Robert Gates “winced with pain” when he heard President Obama was planning to nominate Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence James Clapper to the vacant DNI position.
He knew he was about to lose one of his best.
“I think the president could not have found a better person, a more experienced person, or [a person] with a better temperament to do this job and actually make it work than Jim Clapper,” Gates said.
It’s no secret that the DNI role has been a tough spot, a job in its formative stage with widely differing thoughts on how it should function and what type of person should take it on.
“What is really key, in my view, in making that DNI office work is the chemistry between the DNI and the other leaders of the intelligence community,” he said. “I know that some are looking for a strong executive – a big boss that tells everybody what to do. But structurally, that’s almost impossible with this job, because virtually none of the heads of the 16 intelligence agencies actually work for the DNI.”
Gates pointed out that Clapper holds the respect of many in the Intelligence Community, something he feels will be crucial in the DNI position.