Director of National Intelligence James Clapper Resigns: ‘It Felt Pretty Good’

US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper at the 2016 Intelligence and National Security Summit in Washington, DC. on September 7, 2016

As expected, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has submitted his resignation, concluding 50 years of government service.

CNN reports that Clapper sent his resignation letter on Wednesday evening, and then told the House Select Intelligence Committee on Thursday morning that it “felt pretty good” to do so.

“I have 64 days left and I’d have a pretty hard time with my wife going past that,” Clapper added.

Analysts popped up all over mediaspace to claim Clapper was “sending a signal to the Trump administration that they must now speed up the transition” (as the BBC put it), even though he is a 75-year-old man who explicitly stated he has been working in government for 50 years and his wife wants him to wrap up the extremely stressful job he has held for six years, none of his four predecessors lasted longer than a year, he has been talking about resigning at the end of the Obama presidency for the past year, and such resignations are a standard feature of presidential transitions.

Politico notes that Clapper told the House Intelligence Committee about his resignation on Thursday morning because the ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, joked about hearing rumors that Clapper planned to stay on through the end of President Trump’s first term.

Coincidentally, Wired just published a lengthy interview with Clapper that covered his thoughts on the morality of espionage in general, and Internet surveillance post-Snowden in particular. A key excerpt:

Clapper says he has never doubted the morality of his profession. The job of the intelligence community is, in his view, honorably straightforward: to provide policy­makers with objective analysis derived from intelligence gathered through legally authorized methods. It’s the battlefield that’s confusing and dystopian.

From Clapper’s standpoint, the country is locked in a seemingly constant state of war against a protean and often faceless set of enemies, at a time when a single employee can walk out with a thumb drive containing decades’ worth of secrets.

It’s enough to make him nostalgic for the comparatively uncomplicated era of nuclear détente. “Sometimes I long for the halcyon days of the cold war,” he tells me. “We had a single adversary and we understood it.”

In a recent roundup of possible Trump Administration appointments, CNN listed former Rep. Pete Hoekstra, retired Lt. General Joseph Kellogg, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former Rep. Mike Rogers as likely candidates to succeed Clapper.