Transparency Key to Rebuilding Public Trust in Intelligence

September 9, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman
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James Clapper, director of national intelligence, looks to an uncertain future.

The U.S. intelligence community must commit to greater transparency if it is to regain the public trust that is vital for its continued support, said the director of national intelligence (DNI). James Clapper, opening the AFCEA/INSA Intelligence and National Security Summit being held in Washington, D.C., September 9-10, told the packed audience that the community "must show it is worthy of America’s trust." The U.S. public expects it, he stated.

Not that this approach is without risk, he added. "Our adversaries also have learned a lot from our transparency, but it’s worth the cost,” the DNI emphasized.

This transparency will help with overseas missions such as humanitarian support, he added. In addition to these missions, the intelligence community is facing new challenges from Russian activities. Some of these actions are “a throwback to the Cold War,” Clapper said, adding that the Russians are quite serious about their stake in the Arctic. The U.S. intelligence community is at a disadvantage here.

“We do not have nearly the resources we did in the Cold War to allocate to Russia,” Clapper warned.

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