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Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence

por James R. Clapper, Trey Brown

Outros autores: Ver a secção outros autores.

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Biography & Autobiography. History. Politics. Nonfiction. HTML:New York Times bestseller
The former Director of National Intelligence's candid and compelling account of the intelligence community's successes??and failures??in facing some of the greatest threats to America
/> When he stepped down in January 2017 as the fourth United States director of national intelligence, James Clapper had been President Obama's senior intelligence adviser for six and a half years, longer than his three predecessors combined. He led the U.S. intelligence community through a period that included the raid on Osama bin Laden, the Benghazi attack, the leaks of Edward Snowden, and Russia's influence operation during the 2016 U.S. election campaign. In Facts and Fears, Clapper traces his career through the growing threat of cyberattacks, his relationships with presidents and Congress, and the truth about Russia's role in the presidential election. He describes, in the wake of Snowden and WikiLeaks, his efforts to make intelligence more transparent and to push back against the suspicion that Americans' private lives are subject to surveillance. Finally, it was living through Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and seeing how the foundations of American democracy were??and continue to be??undermined by a foreign power that led him to break with his instincts honed through more than five decades in the intelligence profession to share his inside experience.
Clapper considers such controversial questions as, Is intelligence ethical? Is it moral to intercept communications or to photograph closed societies from orbit? What are the limits of what we should be allowed to do? What protections should we give to the private citizens of the world, not to mention our fellow Americans? Are there times when intelligence officers can lose credibility as unbiased reporters of hard truths by inserting themselves into policy decisions?
Facts and Fears offers a privileged look inside the U.S. intelligence community and, with the frankness and professionalism for which James Clapper is known, addresses some of the most difficult challenges in our natio… (mais)
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With all the words I’ve expended on American politics lately, you’d think I wouldn’t have many left for Jim Clapper’s engrossing memoir of his life in US intelligence. That would be too bad because there’s much food for thought in this book.

Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence under Barak Obama, says over and over that the role of the Intelligence Community (IC) is to speak truth to power. Whether the politicians (the “power”) act on it or not is another matter.

In the case of the second invasion of Iraq, the intelligence was flawed and the results were devastating. In the case of 9/11, the truth was out there but a failure to coordinate the knowledge between gov’t agencies made it useless. In the case of Vietnam the intelligence was always too little too late. In the case of the first Iraq invasion, Stormin Norman Schwartzkopf found the intelligence pretty darned next to useless.

Clapper might reply to these criticisms as nitpicking at worst, or simply a sign that the IC, like every other organ of government, needed transitioning from an older, slower environment to the newer hyper-paced environment and news cycle.

What he cannot dispute is that the intelligence community fed the Commander-in-Chief lies as often as truths.

Aside the success of the assassination of Osama bin Laden, he wouldn’t tell us about all those other success stories of intelligence because they are classified.
This absence in the book of actual spycraft is a real drag on the narrative.

Americans pay upwards of $80 billion annually for their 17 intelligence agencies; and pay in their military budget a not insignificant $800 billion annually. No doubt both have contributed to America’s US $21 trillion public debt.

Edward Snowden’s revelations really caused consternation in the IC. Snowden was telling the American people — and the entire world — that they are getting extreme govt overreach and not much in the way of protection. Clapper for sure questions Snowden’s motivations.

Donald Trump has exacerbated the alienation of America from its spooks. That really pissed off Director Clapper

What also pissed him off and directly led to the writing of this memoir was the time and money Vladimir Putin has put in to undermine American confidence.

Clapper had some choice — and often funny — words for his interlocutors in Capitol Hill, a few muted criticisms for Secretary Clinton, and some not-so muted criticisms of the media.

I had to reflect on the amount and repetitiveness of reporting the Director made to so many Congressional committees. It seems as though America is paying a ton of money for really expensive help to sit there and explain themselves before the television lights and afterward in closed sessions over and over again.

But besides the cost, it truly reflects on the apparent confusion even among the legislators themselves on whose job it is to set policy. When it helps Congress they let the President set policy; when it helps their own election chances it seems they make up their own policy. You wouldn’t have thought it was the plumber’s job to lay out the menu for dinner.

It’s understandable why Clapper feels exasperated by his endless Congressional hearings. He assumes he reports to one boss. The legislators assume they are his boss, too. And in my opinion, they ought to be. From the point of view of setting laws and standards. The President’s job should be implementing it, not manipulating the process.

And that confusion over what the President should and should not be doing is actually more interesting than what he actually does. This is something that the Constitution obviously did not settle.

In a time when the youthful republic faced real dangers from foreign powers the people designing the United States had the example of General George Washington before them. It made sense to make him head of the administration and it made sense to make him Commander in Chief. Washington they could trust would not incite a coup to control government. Later leaders not so much.

And today’s leader would like nothing better than imperial control over all facets of government. Donald Trump is a Republican in affiliation, but a tyrant in deeds. His term in office reveals the great weaknesses in the American system, where popularity — even as narrow a popularity as Trump’s — stymies the legislative branches. Republicans dare not move without Trump’s approval, especially Republicans facing imminent re-election campaigns.

What value has “speaking truth to power” in this environment?

George Washington in many respects was the ideal plumber. Richard Nixon showed the best and the worst that a President could be. Lyndon Johnson proved that no matter how much intelligence you gathered on the battlefield, if your generals were mandated to win an unwinnable war, nobody in the bureaucracy could help you. Barak Obama felt he couldn’t use the “truth” of Russian interference during an election campaign, that it was unfairly tipping the scales.

Clapper decries the budget cuts after the fall of the Berlin Wall as beginning of the end of the effectiveness of some Of America’s intelligence work. As if the fall of the Soviet Union blinded US legislators on the true threats out there.

Vladimir Putin’s hackers and no less China’s hackers are, in this light, the spooks’ greatest new friends. To keep the budgets rolling along. ( )
  MylesKesten | Jan 23, 2024 |
I was quite impressed with the history of our U.S. government security provided by Mr. Clapper. He was candid in his accounts of the workings and his part in them, pointing out the mistakes he made, the reasons behind them, and the good work of others. This book also confirms my worries about our country at this point. ( )
  Wren73 | Mar 4, 2022 |
This book sets a lot of records for me, among them "Highest frequency of acronyms ever" and "Most occurrences of the phrase "speaking truth to power" by someone in power. "

Clappers memoirs are interesting and gives a tiny bit of insight into the (apparently rather sheltered) life of a US intelligence professional (not unlike Comey's effort in that regard.) Still, you can't shake the feeling that it's only showing the surface, and that there's a lot of polishing and retrofitting going on.

Well worth the read, but needs to be taken with the obligatory pinch of salt. ( )
  pan0ramix | Feb 26, 2019 |
James Clapper’s memoir puts together a calm, objective timeline of the events leading up to the 2016 election. Remembering those days, being glued to the 24 hour news! Wow. Seeing the events written and quoted so clearly helps me see the whole picture. And that is just one chapter- ‘The Election’
You could certainly read excerpts if your reading time is limited.
I may have to purchase this book because it may be a major chapter in the decline and fall of democracy in America, and I may want to remember....what happened. [for my reference- page 395 sums up the Russian interference] ( )
  ioplibrarian | Aug 26, 2018 |
I finished this book the night before President Trump announced he was revoking former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance, an event which made Clapper's even more strikingly relevant than it already was in my opinion. The former Director of National Intelligence quite simply lays out the story of his career, as both a military and civilian official, in the intelligence community, along the explaining changes i the community and, not coincidentally, why it is critically important to support the intelligence professionals upon whom our security depends.

At times, the alphabet soup of past and present intelligence agencies and offices can seem arcane even to this former member of the national security community, but most of what Clapper has to say is quite clear and constitutes a strong defense of the work of the U.S. intelligence communities over the last 50 years. I understand why he has been attacked by the President and his supporters, but the evidence he lays out of official Russian malign attempts to tamper with the foundational structures of our democracy ought to get more coverage than the question of whether or not the Trump campaign cooperated with the Russians to get the current president elected, especially since Clapper points out that the Russian meddling maligned both presidential candidates in the last months or so before election day. Clapper came across to me as a dedicated professional who is appalled by the rancor, polarization and lack of trust in our society, much of which he lays at the feet of Vladimir Putin. ( )
  nmele | Aug 21, 2018 |
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James R. Clapperautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Brown, Treyautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Bramhall, MarkNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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To the men and women of the Intelligence Community,
who keep this nation safe and secure;
to my parents, Anne and Jim Clapper,
who had profound influence on me;
and to Sue, who is always there for me
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As more than 40 million Americans who'd already cast an absentee ballot for the 2016 presidential election, I was in Muscat, Oman - on almost certainly my last whirlwind trip to meet with Middle East leaders as US director of national intelligence - when the electorate went to the polls on November 8. (Introduction)
When I accepted President Obama's offer to be the director of national intelligence, I was pushing seventy years old.
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Biography & Autobiography. History. Politics. Nonfiction. HTML:New York Times bestseller
The former Director of National Intelligence's candid and compelling account of the intelligence community's successes??and failures??in facing some of the greatest threats to America
When he stepped down in January 2017 as the fourth United States director of national intelligence, James Clapper had been President Obama's senior intelligence adviser for six and a half years, longer than his three predecessors combined. He led the U.S. intelligence community through a period that included the raid on Osama bin Laden, the Benghazi attack, the leaks of Edward Snowden, and Russia's influence operation during the 2016 U.S. election campaign. In Facts and Fears, Clapper traces his career through the growing threat of cyberattacks, his relationships with presidents and Congress, and the truth about Russia's role in the presidential election. He describes, in the wake of Snowden and WikiLeaks, his efforts to make intelligence more transparent and to push back against the suspicion that Americans' private lives are subject to surveillance. Finally, it was living through Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and seeing how the foundations of American democracy were??and continue to be??undermined by a foreign power that led him to break with his instincts honed through more than five decades in the intelligence profession to share his inside experience.
Clapper considers such controversial questions as, Is intelligence ethical? Is it moral to intercept communications or to photograph closed societies from orbit? What are the limits of what we should be allowed to do? What protections should we give to the private citizens of the world, not to mention our fellow Americans? Are there times when intelligence officers can lose credibility as unbiased reporters of hard truths by inserting themselves into policy decisions?
Facts and Fears offers a privileged look inside the U.S. intelligence community and, with the frankness and professionalism for which James Clapper is known, addresses some of the most difficult challenges in our natio

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