The Director of National Intelligence (DNI), James Clapper, addressed the GEOINT 2013* Symposium attendees and warned that the current budget cycle of the U.S. federal government will see no reprieve from current spending imperatives. "We've been in a decreasing budget cycle and it will continue," said Clapper. "We told our national leaders that we were not going to do more with less; we're going to do less with less."
More pointedly, however, Clapper said that GEOINT is going to be increasingly critical to our national security because of the leaks by Edward Snowden. In addition, GEOINT has played a heavy roll in Syria and Ukraine analyses. Clapper said that "customer #1 has gotten schooled up on what GEOINT can do for him," referring to President Obama.
Referring to Snowden, Clapper was decidedly annoyed at the current perception of him as a "hero" to students because of his supposed "whistle blower" intentions in releasing classified information. "Despite being a geezer, I get it," said Clapper. However, Clapper believes that compromising national security and ignoring the multitude of channels Snowden had available to him to report abuses places Snowden in the category of a traitor, not a patriot. "Snowden's release has gone way beyond professed concerns about privacy ; he released information on how we detect cyber threats and we lost critical foreign intelligence sources; we've seen threats change because of this; and now we are less secure than before."
However, Snowden's actions has had an impact on the intelligence community (IC) resulting in more transparency. Clapper said that the IC has declassified document in an effort to increase transparency but not without a cost. "Adversaries go to school on this transparency." But Clapper felt this was needed despite the cost and to make the attempt to "engage in conversations that free societies have and counter misconceptions that IC workforce is violating civil liberties." The very integrity of the IC was at stake said Clapper.
Photo courtesy of the USGIF