It appears the nomination of retired Gen. James Clapper has hit a GITMO wall of opposition. Though there could be other, unstated concerns, Fox has learned that the current blockade of the Clapper nomination has everything to do with Guantanamo detainee release policies and nothing to do with the nominee, himself.
Currently, the pushback on Clapper is coming not just from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., but also from Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and to some extent, Kit Bond, R-Mo, top Republican on the Intelligence Committee which just unanimously approved the retired general for the top intelligence post last week.
One senior GOP aide tells Fox, "It's a battle to obtain information."
According to the aide, senators are seeking the actual threat assessments, which Congress demanded in legislation earlier this year, for detainees the administration is considering releasing.
An aide to Bond pointed to a letter the senator sent in early July to the head of the National Security Council, Gen. Jim Jones, directly referencing the committee's inability to obtain in a timely manner the individual assessments. In it, Bond refers to "numerous requests" made by the committee for the reports, to no avail, and questions the release of of some detainees, referencing reported disagreements within the Intelligence Community over the release of others.
The senior GOP aide cited a 20 percent recidivism rate for released detainees who return to the battlefield as an excuse for the Clapper delay, a move the senators hope provides them the leverage needed to get the intelligence reports.
But Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, released a statement to reporters calling for immediate action on the nomination. "The Director of National Intelligence is the top intelligence official in the U.S. government. This is a critical national-security position that can't remain vacant when the Congress goes on recess, particularly since the acting DNI, David Gompert, is retiring at the end of the month. There is ample time to confirm him this week and that is what we should do," Feinstein pleaded.
Republicans have sparred with the Administration over Gitmo policy since it first announced in January 2009 its intention to close the prison camp within a year, a deadline that has come and gone.
An aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., would not say when the leader would try to move the nomination, if even before the month-long August recess that begins next week, saying only, "The White House is working hard to address the concerns being raised by some Republicans."