McCain holds up vote on Obama intel chief pick
WASHINGTON (AFP) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Republican US Senator John McCain is holding up a full Senate confirmation vote on President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the US intelligence community, James Clapper, his spokeswoman confirmed Monday.
McCain’s use of a senatorial prerogative called a “hold,” which allows individual lawmakers to delay action on a nominee, could push back Clapper’s confirmation until after the month-long August congressional recess.
The senator requested a report from Clapper and “until that report is provided Senator McCain will continue to hold his nomination,” said McCain spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan, who declined to describe the nature of the report.
Clapper had seemed on track to swift confirmation by the Senate after the Senate Intelligence Committee voted 15-0 to approve his nomination.
Clapper would be the fourth US director of national intelligence, a post created after the September 11, 2001 terrorist strikes and scandals over faulty intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.
Obama tapped Clapper, a veteran of US spy efforts, in early June to replace retired navy admiral Dennis Blair and help turn around troubled US intelligence efforts.
Blair quit after a string of high-profile security lapses including the failure to detect the attempted Christmas Day airline bomb plot.
The director of national intelligence (DNI) oversees the 16 agencies that make up the US intelligence community, including the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency.
Their combined staff consist of about 200,000 employees with an estimated budget of 75 billion dollars.
Clapper has served as undersecretary of defense for intelligence — the top intelligence post at the Pentagon — as well as the director of defense intelligence, which reports directly to the DNI.
Clapper has been nicknamed “the Godfather of HUMINT” — using human contacts for gathering intelligence in addition to high-tech methods like satellite imagery or intercepting communications.