Pawlenty demands explanation from Obama's DNI
February 11th, 2011
06:24 PM ET
4 years ago

Pawlenty demands explanation from Obama's DNI

Washington (CNN) - "If he doesn't have a good explanation he should go," Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said of President Obama's Director of National Intelligence, in an exclusive interview with CNN Friday.

Pawlenty, a possible Republican presidential contender, was reacting to Director James Clapper's testimony before a House panel Thursday. Clapper described the Islamic group the Muslim Brotherhood as "a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam."

The description of the group as "largely secular" raised enough concern that his spokesperson later issued the following statement explaining his remarks: "To clarify Director Clapper's point – in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood makes efforts to work through a political system that has been, under Mubarak's rule, one that is largely secular in its orientation – he is well aware that the Muslim Brotherhood is not a secular organization."

Speaking exclusively to CNN Gov Tim Pawlenty said, "I'm not sure if he was misinformed, misread the statement, uninformed, but whatever it was that's not a good signal to have the leader of our national intelligence infrastructure say the Brotherhood is a largely secular organization. Something is amiss w either him or our administration's view toward intelligence."

This is not the first time Director Clapper's public remarks have caused a flap. He came under withering criticism when he admitted during a December interview with ABC News that he didn't know about terror arrests in London that occurred hours before the interview.

The DNI coordinates the nation's intelligence about terror and national security.

After the ABC interview critics were outraged the man in charge of intelligence wasn't aware of news that had been on television all day. Clapper's spokesperson defended him saying his "knowledge of the threat streams in Europe is profound and multidimensional."

CNN caught up with Governor Pawlenty after his remarks to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, a gathering of some 11,000 activists including many potential 2012 GOP presidential candidates.

Pawlenty also criticized the White House's overall response to the crisis in Egypt calling it "confused".

Pawlenty said in his view, "The Obama administration's understanding and reaction to this seems to be one of surprise and confusion. You had the Secretary of State say she thought the situation in the early days was stable. You had the Vice President say that Mubarak wasn't a dictator. You had the Department of National Intelligence say they thought the Muslim Brotherhood was a largely secular organization. You had Robert Gibbs say that now means yesterday and at the time it didn't really seem that way and much more. So, their initial reaction to all of this seemed confused and disoriented and that's not a good symbol for clarity and strength when projecting America's interest abroad."


Filed under: James Clapper • Tim Pawlenty
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    No Pawlenty! It is time for you to go. You are clueless and have caused our country a lot of damage. Get back to MN, you are worthless.

    February 11, 2011 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  2. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    This has to be Little Timmy's audition for a spot on Fox hate channel. No facts, just hate, fear and unfounded conspiracy theories, so he did well. He could easily take over BillO's second time slot.

    February 11, 2011 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  3. JOhn

    Republcans need the president to be very clear where he stand on the issues so they know what they are against.

    Palenty sounds like Sarah Palin more than anyone with any idea at all towards leadership or solutions.

    February 11, 2011 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  4. Phillipe

    So Pawlenty speaks, reads and writes fluent Arabic and is a Middle East expert. Not.

    February 11, 2011 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  5. LibsAreCommies

    Obama is incompetent except when he's ramming through his radical Leftist domestic agenda.

    February 11, 2011 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  6. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Most experts disagree with Little Timmy's assessment of President Obama's handling the Egypt situation. Even reluctant republicans said Obama handled the situation correctly. It is hard for a republican like Timmy to understand that if we invaded Egypt, we would be at war there for 10 years, like Iraq. The Egyptians did this in three weeks, without a war.

    February 11, 2011 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  7. Who Cares?

    Ahh....Poor Timmy. Not everyone wants to cower in fear and engage in the next Crusades. Not enough hate involved for Timmy.

    February 11, 2011 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  8. Pretzel Logic

    Shut Up Timmy. You will never win another election ever. On the incredibly extreme off-chance that a Republican actually wins the Presidency, they won't even consider you a viable candidate for Secretary of Transportation.

    February 11, 2011 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  9. Yanni

    Would you give as explanation for the failed bridge while you were governor of Minnesota? today a dictator has been disposed with peaceful straggle and it is a good day for humanity. We know that you will say and do anything to make a headline and to appeal the worst instinct of your men by planting fear and doubt among people. When your idea hit daylight you will be another loser among many who try power-grabbing like you.

    February 11, 2011 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  10. Len

    Typical GOP response. It is the administration fault we did not know that Egypt was going to errupt. Of course, he has know idea what has been said behind close doors. And he should not.....I am sure he would have reacted like Bush....Democracy is good for the middle east, so let us go start a war and invade the country!!! (That is how we brought so called Democracy to Irag!!!) We killed hundreds of thousands of Iragiis and over 5,000 thousand of our brave men and women......America please wake up...the GOP will destroy our country.

    February 11, 2011 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  11. T'sah from Virginia

    Shut up!!! Everybody is looking for a GOTCHA!!!

    February 11, 2011 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  12. swagner

    Blah, Blah, Blah, all they can do is "attack" – no real ideas of there own though. Here is an idea for Tim, grow some shoulders and give Nancy Regan her shoulder pads back.

    February 11, 2011 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  13. dan

    pawlenty is full of hot air. he doesn't have the foreign policy experience to question this man's account of the muslim brotherhood. just another attempt by some GOP hopeful to make anything muslim the boogeyman. pawlenty couldn't run his state, nevermind the country. now go find funding for those crumbling bridges that happened under your watch pawlenty. the people of minn hate you, and pretty sure the rest of america will too once they get exposed to your hypocrisy and childish behavior.

    February 11, 2011 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  14. diridi

    this conservative idiot does not have any kind of brain, nor thinking power...Another GOP brainless idiot, talking....o.k...

    February 11, 2011 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  15. PAUL W.

    Yeah, this really seems like a huge deal. I'm sure all 9 million unemployed due to GOP legislation that lead to the collapse our economy are all very concerned about this. Good try, Tim. Next time, perhaps a bit less hyperbole. If a misstatement was all it took to get thrown out of office there would be no Republicans in office.

    February 11, 2011 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  16. Marty, FL

    Citizen Pawlenty is in no position to make demands on our intelligence.

    President Obama handled the Egyptian situation very well, and thlank God he is the one in charge of our executive branch. Egypt worked out admirably for the peaceful protesters towards their freedom, rightfully so.

    February 11, 2011 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  17. juliei4

    I am from Minnesota and still have family there. Beware when Pawlenty starts talking about how he cut taxes in MN in his run for president. I hope he will be asked about the charges and fees on everything that went up far beyond what taxes went down. This is not a straight shooting guy. Who is he to demand that the head of the DNI go? The whole world had it right – it was just a day later than everyone thought.

    February 11, 2011 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  18. kayla

    where were you idiots when bush was in office? you hypocrites.

    February 11, 2011 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  19. Inmyopinion

    President Bush was given wrong info, Pelosi claimed she was given wrong info and originally Obama was given wrong info about Egypt by the same department. I think Pawlenty makes a valid point.

    February 11, 2011 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  20. Mike in MN

    Want problems, we've had Pawlenty ; )

    February 11, 2011 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  21. Hotdog

    How quick do people forget. Did the Republicans demand an explanation from the DNI when Bush continued to lie about WMD.s? Why would a person use a platform like this to make a fool of themselves? Do these people think that the American people are that stupid? Some thing drastic has to happen in this country in order for the political environment to change. Racism, greed, fear mongering and divisive politics is going to be the end of the USA. CNN I do not expect you to post this because of the fact that it is true.

    February 11, 2011 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  22. kay

    Who does he think is to demand anything. He has no power.

    February 11, 2011 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  23. Oh My

    There are Mulsims under my sheets or is it my sheets are muslin. The ignorance and paranoia of bedwetters like timmy is amazing. The worst of America is fully on display at CPAC

    February 11, 2011 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  24. vic nashville tn

    Today what happened in Egypt made our nation safe

    Terrorism start where ever dictators ruling

    Tim Pawlenty doesn’t have any clue

    February 11, 2011 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  25. peace

    thank you god for showing us who these demon is in the gop party. Please let them keep talking so that the world will know who they are.

    February 11, 2011 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
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