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He has now served almost six years as America's top intelligence official, and when I asked him this week how much longer he would be in harness, he consulted his calendar and answered with relief, "265 days!" Clapper, 75, has worked in intelligence for 53 years, starting when he joined the Air Force in 1963 . He's a crusty, sometimes cranky veteran of the ingrown spy world, and he has a perspective that's probably unmatched in Washington. Given Clapper's view that intelligence services must cooperate against terrorism, a small breakthrough seems to have taken place in mid-April when Clapper met with some European intelligence chiefs near Ramstein Air Base in Germany to discuss better sharing of intelligence. The terrorist threat has shadowed Clapper's tenure.I asked Clapper whether he shared Obama's view, as expressed in Jeffrey Goldberg's article in The Atlantic, that America doesn't need the Middle East economically as it once did, that it can't solve the region's problems and that, in trying, the U.S. would harm its interests elsewhere.After a career in the spy world, Clapper argues that intelligence issues are basically simple, it's the politics surrounding them that are complicated.
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