Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper gave a talk on the ethics and importance of information gathering at Roanoke College Thursday night.
Clapper, who was appointed to the role of DNI by former President Barack Obama in 2010, gave insight about why the U.S. and other countries around the world engage in intelligence gathering:
“The objective is to collect information that helps that decision maker, as I tried to do for President Obama for six and a half years, to reduce the risk, reduce the uncertainty of the heavy decisions that any decision maker has to make. And, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a squad leader with nine soldiers or the President of the United States; it’s the same.”
Clapper believes information gathering is an ethical practice so long as it is done to protect and abides by the law.
He went on to talk about the highlights of his time within the Obama administration – the greatest of which was the takedown of Osama bin Laden in 2011.
“Word had gotten out and there was this big crowd in Lafayette Park chanting, ‘USA! USA!’ And it really hit me because I was around in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, and it was a tremendous trauma for the country and certainly a tremendous trauma for the intelligence community, so it represented closure.”
Clapper also touched on a recent nerve agent attack in the United Kingdom believed to have been conducted by Russian agents. He said President Donald Trump was not nearly assertive enough in condemning Russian President Vladmir Putin for the attack.