In his new book, “Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence,” James Clapper, a senior advisor to President Obama, examines the intelligence community’s successes — and failures — in facing some of the greatest threats to America. The former Director of National Intelligence will discuss his career in a May 24 appearance at Sonoma’s Sebastiani Theatre.
Clapper served as Director of National Intelligence from 2010 until 2017, and has held both military and civilian posts. Do intelligence officers, he examines, lose credibility as unbiased reporters of hard truths by asserting themselves into policy decisions?
Topics for the conversation, presented by Sonoma Speakers Series, include the growing threat of cyber attacks, and Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election.
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 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.
Beginning his career as an enlisted Marine Corps reservist in 1961, Clapper eventually became a three-star Air Force lieutenant general and director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, retiring from uniformed service in 1995. In 2001 he returned to service, becoming the first civilian director of the National Imaging and Mapping Agency just three days after 9/11.
In 2007 he was appointed the Pentagon’s top intelligence official, serving as an appointee for both the Bush and Obama administrations before President Obama appointed him as DNI.
Presented by Sonoma Speakers Series, Readers’ Books, and Sebastiani Theatre. 7p.m. $30. Sebastiani Theatre. 707.732.4404. Sonomaspeakerseries.org.