This doesn't seem like a great reason for
Sen. Lindsey Graham
to demand that James Clapper find another job. It is, at least, a deceptively simple reason. Clapper, asked which countries represented the greatest "mortal threat" to the United States, suggested Russia and China.
Clapper, who just last month startled lawmakers when he claimed during a hearing that the Muslim Brotherhood is "secular," made the comments about Russia and China during an exchange with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
He was in the midst of testifying about global security threats when Manchin asked which country represents the biggest "mortal threat" to the United States. Russia and China, Clapper answered.
At that point, Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., broke in to say he was "really kind of taken aback" by the answer. Levin said North Korea and Iran are the first nations that come to his mind, not Russia and China.
Here's the video as edited by Fox, which leaves out the start of the exchange, but leaves in the key bit -- Clapper treating this as an intellectual exercise, and discussing which nations literally have the power to destroy the United States.
I’m more of a mind to consider their capabilities. Both Russia and China potentially represent a mortal threat to the United States. I don’t think either country today has the intent to attack us.
Clapper's right. We estimate that China has around 240 warheads, and Russia has around 12,600. We estimate that North Korea has less than 10 nuclear weapons, and Iran has none. So it's literally true -- only China and Russia can obliterate us.
However! This is a tone-deaf thing for a DNI to say, knowing that he's 1) in Congress, 2) being filmed, 3) the combination of those first two things means his comments will be heard in Russia and China and Iran and North Korea. How much does that matter? I have no idea. How much better off would he have been if he'd given a simple answer to an easy question? Much better.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola
The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.
I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.
Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.
Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore
And schools are getting worried.
Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War
Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough
So they added a little self-immolation.
Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem
Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology.