WASHINGTON – The U.S. director of national intelligence, James Clapper, announced on Thursday that he will leave the post on Jan. 20, 2017, when President Barack Obama hands over the White House to Donald Trump.
“I submitted my letter of resignation last night, which felt pretty good,” the 75-year-old Clapper said during an appearance before the House of Representatives Select Committee on Intelligence.
“I got 64 days left and I think I’d have a hard time with my wife anything past that,” he said.
The retired Air Force lieutenant general signaled some time ago that he was ready to leave the government.
Clapper initially stepped away from public life in 1995, but returned to the national security sector following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Obama named him to the post of director of national intelligence in 2010.
As Washington’s spy chief, Clapper had to respond to questions and concerns about the extent of the U.S. intelligence community’s surveillance of private individuals and the issue brought him into conflict with some in Congress.
“During Director Clapper’s tenure, senior intelligence officials engaged in a deception spree regarding mass surveillance. Top officials, officials who reported to Director Clapper, repeatedly misled the American people and even lied to them,” Sen. Ron Wyden said Thursday in a statement.
In March 2013, during a hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Wyden asked Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper the following question:
“Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
Clapper, who was under oath, responded “No, sir.”
“It does not?” the Oregon Democrat asked again.
“Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly,” the director said.
Three months later, whistleblower Edward Snowden provided documents showing that the U.S. National Security Agency had collected the telephone records of tens of millions of U.S. residents.
Additional revelations detailed NSA programs to collect individuals’ Web-browsing histories, chat logs, e-mail usage and physical locations.