AP: Coburn Places Hold on Clapper Nomination to Lead Spy Agencies

Posted August 4, 2010 at 9:18pm

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has blocked the nomination of James Clapper to be director of national intelligence, the Associated Press reported Wednesday evening.

Coburn’s office did not return requests for comment Wednesday night. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had previously placed a hold on the nomination, but he released it Tuesday after receiving an intelligence report he had requested from the Obama administration.

Similarly, Intelligence ranking member Kit Bond (R-Mo.) has said he would “consider all tools available” to hold up Clapper’s nomination while he awaits intelligence information.

Bond and Coburn seek a threat assessment of detainees held at the U.S. facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. “I think it’s important we look at the vast number of people who have been released under the Bush administration and the Obama administration who are from Guantánamo who are now trying to kill American soldiers,” Coburn said Tuesday. “I think that information is due, [and] we ought to be getting it.”

Clapper, a retired Air Force lieutenant general, is serving as undersecretary of Defense for intelligence, and his nomination to be director of national intelligence was unanimously approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee last week. He was nominated by President Barack Obama in June to fill the post previously held by retired Adm. Dennis Blair. Democrats had hoped to confirm Clapper before adjourning for the August break.

The director of national intelligence, a position created after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, oversees 16 spy agencies.

Jessica Brady contributed to this report.