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James Clapper

20 - James Clapper
2012 Rank: 20

Director of National Intelligence
He may lack budget authority, but Clapper remains one of the most visible faces in American intelligence, with more than four decades of experience. Gen. Keith Alexander (No. 9) may have built the infrastructure that allowed for unprecedented spying worldwide, but it was Clapper the Obama administration tapped to defend it. Following Edward Snowden’s disclosures, Clapper has been busy testifying before Congress and releasing statements trying to defend intelligence community actions. A retired Air Force lieutenant general who largely worked for DoD before taking his current job in 2010, Clapper is effective with lawmakers, especially in private. Tellingly, the Obama administration has made no real changes to the existing spying programs following the disclosures, a testament to Clapper’s ability to defend their necessity where it could do the most good — inside government and to Congress.

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