Senator urges US spy chief be fired
A US senator called Thursday for US spy chief James Clapper to be fired for calling Russia and China "mortal" threats to the United States and saying Libya's Moamer Kadhafi would defeat a rebellion.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham cited two previous public missteps by the national intelligence director, notably a February comment that Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood was "secular, and said the latest comments were the last straw.
"Three strikes and you're out," Graham, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Fox News, pointing to Clapper's comments on China and Russia in testimony to the panel.
The White House said it had "full faith and confidence" in Clapper, and other senior senators broke with Graham's call for his removal.
In a statement, Graham said Clapper's comments on Kadhafi were "not helpful to our national security interests" and "will make the situation more difficult for those opposing" the Libyan strongman.
"Some of his analysis could prove to be accurate, but it should not have been made in such a public forum. If he felt the need to say what he did, then they should have moved into closed session," said Graham.
"Unfortunately, this isn't the first questionable comment from the DNI Director. However it should be the final straw," the lawmaker said.
Asked about Kadhafi's hold on power in the face of an armed uprising and calls from the United States and key allies for him to leave, Clapper had told the committee: "Over time I think the regime will prevail."
"With respect to the rebels in Libya, and whether or not they will succeed or not, I think frankly they're in for a tough row," he said.
Asked what country posed the greatest threat to US security, Clapper said Russia's nuclear arsenal poses "potentially a mortal threat to us. I don't think they (the Russians) have the intent to do that."
And the Chinese "too pose, potentially, from a capability standpoint, a threat to us, -- a mortal threat."
In both countries "the intent is low, but they certainly have the capability," said Clapper, who agreed that the United States poses a potentially mortal threat to Russia and China.
© 2011 AFP