Tales from the Trail

Could Petraeus be too shiny for the CIA?

An agency all about cloak-and-dagger tends to be wary of the limelight.

So President Barack Obama’s choice of General David Petraeus for CIA director has raised some questions in intelligence and military circles.

How will a four-star general who has repeatedly been the subject of speculation as a possible future presidential candidate, and who doesn’t shy from the media spotlight, run an agency that prefers to stick to the shadows?

Will his boss, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, a retired three-star general, be uncomfortable with a subordinate who has a much higher public profile that threatens to outshine him?

Will Petraeus secretly harbor resentment at not getting the “ultimate job” for a military officer – Joint Chiefs chairman? Admiral Mike Mullen is expected to retire later this year and there had been some speculation about Petraeus being a contender to replace him.

“Is this a consolation prize?” one former U.S. official said.

Petraeus is not likely to make too many friends at CIA if he comes in with a restructure and fix-it mentality. “They’ve got a little fix-it fatigue,” a former U.S. intelligence official said.

How bad was Intelligence Czar’s Libya “gaffe”?

USA-INTELLIGENCE/The columnist Michael Kinsley once quipped that in Washington a “gaffe” is when a political notable accidentally tells the truth. Intelligence and national security officials are describing the latest controversial statements about Libya by National Intelligence Director James Clapper as that kind of “gaffe.”

At a Congressional hearing on Thursday, Clapper said that rebels trying to oust Muammar Gaddafi from power had lost momentum and that the Libyan leader could well survive for some time to come. “We believe that Gaddafi is in this for the long haul…He appears to be hunkering down for the duration.”

“This is kind of a stalemate back and forth,” Clapper said, but added that, “I think over the long term that the (Gaddafi) regime will prevail.”

Dueling analyses over Libya’s future?

clapperThe  Director of National Intelligence dropped a bomb – metaphorically — in the  Senate on Thursday when he testified that Libyan rebels are not likely to oust Muammar Gaddafi and predicted that eventually “the regime will prevail.”

James Clapper’s  jaw-dropping prediction, as Washington, NATO and the United Nations search for a way forward and Libya lurches toward civil war,  prompted Republican Senator Lindsey Graham to call for his dismissal.

And it prompted some flame-throwing from the White House.

Tom Donilon, Obama’s National Security Advisor, said Obama is happy with Clapper’s performance, but he had tough words for Clapper’s analysis.

Washington Extra – Say it ain’t so

The White House says it knows that just telling Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to go, doesn’t make it so.

LIBYA-GADDAFI/SONGaddafi “has clearly shown that he doesn’t intend to leave just because we said so,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

The head of intelligence told it like it is, Carney said. “Director (James) Clapper stated what is true, that Colonel Gaddafi is hunkering down, we all know that.”