“The President does not think that Gadhafi will prevail,” a senior administration official says, distancing the president from comments made by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper this afternoon.
President Obama “believes that Gadhafi has lost the legitimacy to lead and should leave, and that history is on the side of the Libyan people and their call for change,” the official says.
Former White House counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke tells ABC News that there are “actually a lot of analysts who agree with General Clapper that there is a chance, perhaps even a probability, that Gadhafi will prevail.”
As for Clapper’s assertion that China and Russia pose a threat to the U.S., Clarke says, “General Clapper, who is a military man after all, and has 30 years plus in the military, probably heard the question in terms of what countries in the world can really threaten the United States in a substantial way. And the answer to that is there are really only two countries in the world who have nuclear missiles that can hit the United States, and can do severe damage to the United States.”
That said, Clarke said “General Clapper has not spend a lot of time testifying before congressional committees. He doesn’t think politically. He doesn’t think in terms of media. He’s an intelligence officer who thinks in terms of running an intelligence organization. And turns out you need both skills because Congress will kill you if you’re not a good witness. Congress will kill you if you make a mistake. They look for weaknesses and when you make one mistake they’re going to be looking for another one.”
Clarke added that Donilon’s comments are not a good omen for Clapper. “When you have the National Security Advisor telling the press that he answered the question improperly or not well, you are already in a great deal of trouble.”