Retired Lt. Gen. James Clapper has served in the United States Air Force for decades and under former President Barack Obama as the Director of National Intelligence. He's not an easily "excited" man, according to information warfare expert Molly McKew. But that's exactly what happened Thursday when Clapper discussed President Donald Trump's comments about North Korea.
"I was really struck when I visited there in November 2014, you know, but the level of paranoia and the siege mentality that prevails in North Korea was overwhelming," Clapper explained. "I've followed Korean Peninsula since I served there in the mid-1980s and I was really taken aback by the level of the siege mentality and the paranoia that exists there. And so I've been an advocate for years now of opening which right now is kind of hard to do, but an intersection in Pyongyang much like we had in Havana for decades government we didn't recognize. This is not a reward for bad behavior but rather to have an in residence diplomatic presence, a way of gaining greater insight and understanding in what's going on in North Korea and perhaps most importantly, conveying information to North Korea."
He went on to say that whatever the United States has been doing with respect to North Korea, clearly isn't working and it's time to think about a new and different strategy.
"I don't know exactly how it would work, but I think the time has come to think about some direct dialogue with the North Koreans," Clapper urged. "It wasn't so long ago that President Trump was saying it would be an honor to meet Kim Jong-Un and perhaps a summit that could be brokered by the Chinese. But this -- you know, don't pass go, don't collect $200 and we're going to, you know, create a situation the likes of Hiroshima or Nagasaki, which is implied in the president's threat. I don't think we're there yet, at least I hope to god we're not."
He went on to say that the global community must accept that North Korea has a nuclear presence on the global stage.
"When you consider the alternative, which is not good, I would hope people would give [talks] some thought," he said.
Host Don Lemon asked about Trump's attitudes on the intelligence community and Clapper noted that it seems Trump waffles back and forth on it.
"Well, I think he likes intelligence on a selective basis," Clapper continued. "He seems to accept the intelligence on Korea or on Syria, on China, on other areas, on terrorism, but when it comes to Russia, not so much."
He said that trump would "improve" once he got rid of the two "principle Nazis," John Brennan and himself. Clapper was referencing to a January 11, 2017 press conference prior to Trump's inauguration where he blamed the intelligence community for leaks about Russian hacking. He explained Trump likened he and Brennan to "likened us to Nazis."