03:44 GMT +327 March 2019
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    Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper

    Ex-US Intelligence Chief Lambasts Trump’s Remarks on bin Laden as ‘Ignorant’

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    During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” US President Donald Trump commented on the 2011 mission that resulted in Osama bin Laden’s killing. Trump labeled the mission’s architect, Adm. William McRaven, a “Hillary Clinton backer and an Obama backer,” expressing dissatisfaction about how the mission was carried out.

    Former US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper assailed President Trump for his comments about the now-retired Adm. McRaven, who directed the operation in Pakistan in which bin Laden was killed.

    Clapper accused Trump of being "ignorant" of what it takes to conduct such an operation.

    "What this really is, is misplaced criticism of Bill McRaven. It's really a slam at the intelligence community, who was responsible for tracking down Osama bin Laden," Clapper told CNN.

    The former top intelligence official first provided some details of the operation, then explained his view of what Trump's words really meant.

    "It took patience and perseverance over a period of years from the intelligence community. Principally, the Central Intelligence Agency. That [Trump's criticism] was more of an indictment against the intelligence committee, though he may not have realized it, rather than Bill McRaven," said Clapper.

    During his interview on "Fox News Sunday," Trump described McRaven, a former Navy SEAL, as a "Hillary Clinton fan" and wondered why the US didn't manage to neutralize bin Laden earlier.

    "Frankly, wouldn't it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that?" Trump asked.

    The first reaction came from McRaven himself, who fired back, calling Trump's attacks on the media the "greatest threat" to American democracy during an interview with CNN on Sunday.

    McRaven also made clear whose admirer he is.

    "I am a fan of President [Barack] Obama and President George W. Bush, both of whom I worked for. I admire all presidents, regardless of their political party, who uphold the dignity of the office and use that office to bring the nation together," he explained.

    Clapper is one of several members of the US intelligence community who criticised Trump's remarks. After Trump's interview aired on Sunday, Leon Panetta, former US secretary of defense, and John Brennan, ex- director of the CIA, called for Trump to apologize to McRaven, according to NBC News. 

    Politicians have responded to the president's comments as well. The Republican National Committee backed Trump, posting a tweet describing McRaven as a "hardly non-political figure" who had backed Hillary Clinton. At the same time, US Speaker of the House Paul Ryan stood up for the former Navy officer, expressing gratitude to him personally and all the troops for "their service".


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    mission, assassination, Osama Bin Laden, James Clapper, Donald Trump, United States
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