The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
James R. Clapper was named a Belfer Center non-resident Senior Fellow in February 2017.
Lt. Gen. Clapper (ret.) served from 2010 – 2017 as the Director of National Intelligence. In that position, he led the United States intelligence community and served as the principal intelligence advisor to the President.
Previously, Clapper served in two administrations as the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, where he was the principal staff assistant and advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense on intelligence, counterintelligence, and security matters for the Department. In this capacity, he was also dual-hatted as the Director of Defense Intelligence for DNI.
Earlier, he directed the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), transforming it into the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) as it is today. He also served as a consultant and advisor to Congress and to the Departments of Defense and Energy and as a member of a wide variety of government panels, boards, commissions, and advisory groups.
Clapper, who began his military career as a rifleman in the U.S. Marine Corps, served two combat tours during the Southeast Asia conflict and flew 73 combat support missions in EC-47s over Laos and Cambodia. He was Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence at U.S. Air Force Headquarters during Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm and Director of Intelligence for three war-fighting commands: U.S. Forces Korea, Pacific Command, and Strategic Air Command. Following his retirement from military service in 1995, Clapper worked in the private sector for six years as an executive in three companies focused on services for the intelligence community. He was a member of the Downing Assessment Task Force that investigated the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996, and was vice chairman of a commission chaired by former Gov. Jim Gilmore of Virginia on the subject of homeland security.
Clapper earned a bachelor’s degree in government and politics from the University of Maryland, a master’s degree in political science from St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas, and an honorary doctorate from the Joint Military Intelligence College.
His awards include three National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medals, two Defense Distinguished Service Medals, the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Coast Guard’s Distinguished Public Service Award, and the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award. He has also received the NAACP’s National Distinguished Service Award and the Presidentially-conferred National Security Medal.Last Updated: