Pawlenty demands explanation from Obama's DNI
February 11th, 2011
06:24 PM ET
12 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. John

    Pawlenty said some very foolish things about the Egyptian revolution just as Mubarak was about to leave. He's only trying to cover his butt now.

    February 11, 2011 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  2. Mike in Texas

    Obama owes you squat dude. Big cajones in front of CPAC but you are nothing more than a pandering weasel. Your own state hates you. Keep living the lie bro.

    February 11, 2011 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  3. Greg

    Another paranoid republican who speaks both ignorantly and prejudicially. Most independent and professional intelligence agencies across the world concur with DNI director. Muslim Brotherhood is not as influential and is not as extreme as the know nothing GOPers are claiming. But that's how they are, if not blacks, it is Hispanics, chinese or Muslims. It is about time Pawlenty and other GOPers get the hood out of the closet, dust it and wear it. At least then they are honest. As Bill Maher once said, not all Republicans are racists, but if you are racist there is more likelihood you are Republican.

    February 12, 2011 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  4. Lynda/Minnesota

    Let's be clear, Tim. I'm less concerned over the Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt than I am over why, in the eight years of your Governorship, we in Minnesota saw a 0.0% job growth. Your eight year tenure brought us approximately 1,000 jobs, while your budget cuts dropped nearly as many jobs. In retrospect, I don't think you should be demanding anything from our President. You could explain to the country, though, how you plan on expanding your Minnesota 0.0% job growth record nationally.

    February 12, 2011 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  5. todd

    And here we go. Everything Obama does is bad. Ok TP, if you are so brilliant, why don't you tell us what you would do. And sorry, you can't go invading Egypt.

    February 12, 2011 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  6. D-NICE

    So now Tim Palenty is a middle eastern expert?? I wonder if he can see the middle east from Minnesota? Nevermind the guy is never in Minnesota, he too busy running for president to run his state. The only thing that little timmy knows about Egypt is what he heard on fox news.

    February 12, 2011 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  7. Adam

    Please edit this. Please please please edit this. He is the former Governor of Minnesota. Former. We are mercifully free of him now as he unleashes his garbage on the rest of the country. Mark Dayton is the Governor of Minnesota. Tim Pawlenty will likely not set foot in our state for another couple of years, and we could not be more pleased by this. Do NOT call him our Governor. Those dark ages are gone.

    February 12, 2011 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  8. Ysidero

    I'm pretty sure the DNI is better-informed than a second-rate governor like Pawlenty.

    February 12, 2011 03:21 am at 3:21 am |
  9. Marry

    Oh yes! And the GOP/TP is full of foreign politic experts. Especially when it comes to delicate and complicated situations! Seeing Russia from their porch. Funny!!

    February 12, 2011 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  10. Kevin

    Grandstanding from the Minnesota nobody. You sir, are not presidential material. You couldn't even get reelected as govenor.

    February 12, 2011 05:21 am at 5:21 am |
  11. Chris

    The GOP – "Keeping Fear Alive!" Pawlenty still feeding red meat meat to all the paranoid, xenophobic right wingers.

    February 12, 2011 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  12. Dale

    And where was Pawlenty when the "Villiage Idiot" said Iraqi and WMDs?

    February 12, 2011 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  13. Kevin

    Another republican who just sits back and throw stones, without offering any solutions. This type of trash talking will work for those at CPAC, but get in front of the American people and he'll fall flat. This is only the beginning of what the GOP intends to do for the next 2 yrs, trash the President at every possible turn and hope snd pray that things get so bad that people will vote for anybody other than the President. Well people were fooled into thinking that in the 2010 mid-terms, but not the general election.

    February 12, 2011 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  14. Derka Derr

    Confused? that the best you can do? not like you sitting in the middle east with two failures and your #^&@ in your hand is it? By the way, your reaping the benefits of being uneducated enough to think you were at war with Muslims. Oops.

    February 12, 2011 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  15. saywhat

    When will his 15 minutes of fame be up. He already has his Presidential bid test run in The Daily Show and he sucked at it big time. He can't come up with a straight answer to a simple question and he's asking a stupid one from the President. Wouldn't it be easy for him to just spit out what he truly feels about the sitting President.

    February 12, 2011 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  16. Oy Vey Az

    This guy is right !! Our national intelligent agencies are clueless more often than not ... Kind of like Pawlenty ... clueless !

    February 12, 2011 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  17. D. Bunker

    So Pawlenty is "confused" by the president's response to the situation in Egypt?!? Here's a clue for slow Timmy: The Eqyptians just removed a dictator using non-violent protests. The president supported the people of Egypt. I don't see much to be confused about, but little Timmy may just be slow.

    February 12, 2011 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
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