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

    This fool could not evey stand up to Sara Palin. One of the biggest jokers.

    February 11, 2011 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  2. Dave

    I'm sure Pawlenty is making a great argument with vast inside intelligence knowledge. /sarcasm

    February 11, 2011 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  3. L Harris

    We should have bombed them into the stone age right?? You republicans are just too much....

    February 11, 2011 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  4. Ken, AZ

    Some things takes a village, but all of these republicans aspiring to be president are Village Idiots.

    February 11, 2011 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  5. annie s

    Um, Timmy, no one owes you any explanation. This was a rapidly evolving situation and the Administration acted with due caution considering Mubarak was an ally. Oh, and you know that little squawk you made about the
    the Muslim Brotherhood – here's a lesson in democracy. if the Egyptians decide and vote for the Muslin Brotherhood to have a hand in ruling the country, we will need to deal with them diplomatically. The President gets that – apprarently you don't.

    February 11, 2011 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  6. Seattle Sue

    Did he demand an explanation of Bush's intelligence. Hell no he didn't and we were attacked 9-11-01. So stuff a cork in it Mr. Not Going tTo Make It Through The Primary.

    February 11, 2011 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  7. mary

    Tim, STFU!!!! Anything that starts with Muslin is the new strawman .You GOP fools need to stop trying to divide this country.We have not always done right by other countries! Do the dumb ass GOPER'S remember that Reagan sided with the government of South Africa against the people who were oppressed!!!

    February 11, 2011 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  8. Sowhat

    Pawlenty doesn't have the foggiest idea about what's going on. He's grabbing at headlines by throwing out anything that will catch print. Too bad he doesn't realize that he doesn't have a snowball's chance in 2012. Makes you almost feel sorry for the guy.

    February 11, 2011 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  9. carlos

    and you polenta, are a complete imbecile............all these dumbasses criticize without expanding on their views, inept, incompetent has been governor.

    February 11, 2011 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  10. ED fl

    Read a Pawlenty comment that he did not know what Planet Obama is from, Hopefully it is not the Planet Minnesota that producd idiots AKA Pawlenty and Bachmann. I can not believe that these 2 peas in a pod relly think they have a snowballs chance in H_LL of winning anything outside of Planet Minnesota.

    February 11, 2011 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  11. Martha in CF

    Former Gov. Pawlenty has nothing to say.......He left Minnesota with a deficit of 6 billion dollars. His Republican colleagues are trying to figure out the mess. This is no different than what Bush left the American people in, deficit, deficit, deficit......

    February 11, 2011 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  12. BDM

    Oh how easy it is to criticize from the "bench."

    February 11, 2011 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  13. Henry

    I love this guy. He wants to pick a fight so bad but seems to get no reaction. I love this. He is a loser. Go back to MN.

    February 11, 2011 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  14. Marie MD

    And who the heck do you think you are to demand anything from this Administation? You are a low class bully. You have no power and no say in anything that our government does.
    Get lost!

    February 11, 2011 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  15. Pawlenty Go Away !

    When will this guy get a clue that he will never be president ? He is wasting his time ! I feel sorry for Minnesota that they have a governor that is more concerned about chasing a pipe dream than he is about doing the job that he was elected to do ! Timmy get it through your thick skull , YOU ARE NOT PRESIDENTIAL !

    February 11, 2011 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  16. BeverlyNC

    Pawlenty should go. I have never seen more ignorant Republicans at one time in all my life. They know NOTHING about the issues or about foreign countries or foreign politics. They are totally clueless. All they care about is destroying America to try to destroy Obama. Talk about traitors. They are doing NOTHING to help the American People or the nation. They ALL need to go in 2012.

    February 11, 2011 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  17. thomas

    Pawlenty also criticized the White House's overall response to the crisis in Egypt calling it "confused".
    It's funny , Pawlenty never ever criticized the Bush administration for being confused over weapons of mass destruction !
    Sir , you will never be President !

    February 11, 2011 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  18. mlc in CA

    Mostly Mr. Repugnant wants the hear what he already believes, and any other explanation, including the truth, seems to have left him screaming, "Off with his head!" We have a whole political party in this country with their heads so buried in religious dogma and ideology that they couldn't think for themselves if the welfare of our nation depended on it. And it does.

    February 11, 2011 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

    Give me a break! These Conservatives are a joke, constantly looking for any minor mistake as an excuse to call for someone's resignation and try to paint President Obama as a bad leader.

    You know, I could stomach the GOP's comments if they actually had something more to offer our country than fear, lies, division and hate. Something like ideas or policies that weren't PROVEN FAILURES.

    These GOP "hopefuls" are a bunch of pathetic baboons (with my apologies to baboons everywhere).

    February 11, 2011 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  20. Clwyd

    Stop this mad man! he isn't a fan of SocialSecurity wither folks!

    February 11, 2011 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  21. Aaron

    Pawlenty and his boss Palin are the last sources of intelligence information that anyone should rely on. He's a freaking governor that apparently can't even do that job much less interfere with federal matters.

    February 11, 2011 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  22. LouAz

    Well, just what does GOV Pawlenty know about Egypt and when did he know it ? Come on Gov, tell us what you know, not what you think someone else doesn't know !

    February 11, 2011 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  23. they call me "tater salad"

    Hey Tim, you don't have the authority to demand anything from anyone, you're a nobody, so sit down and STFU! Just because you're good at being President of your own fan club (like Palin) doesn't mean you'd be good at being President of my country!

    February 11, 2011 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  24. Gaylon Barrow

    Pawlenty – You're yelling at the wrong person. He is only the pawn of the Anti-Christ Obama. This is Obama's desire he has already stated such. I don't understand that so many people can be in such denial. If they would just listen to Obama he gives away his secret desires. And they are the Brotherhood of Muslims taking Egypt and the fall of America. He has dang near completed both while we sit on our thumbs. I never thought us Americans could be so dumb. WAKE UP PLEASE.

    February 11, 2011 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  25. Jeff in Virginia

    I see. Sarah "Word Salad" Palin turns out a random string of words, and the cons love it. Yet, anybody working for the current administration has to be 100% perfect in how they speak, every time, or it's outright incompetence.

    The double standards that conservatives impose on real Americans is disgusting.

    February 11, 2011 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
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