The Night Beat: 12 Stars at the CIA

Good evening. On the Night Beat: Monday, 12 new stars will be added to the wall in the lobby of the CIA headquarters building. That's the most in one year since the agency's founding. In addition to the seven CIA employees who died in Khost, five others were killed in the service of their duties this year, bringing to 102 the number of Americans who lost their lives while on the job for the Company.


The White House asked Director of Defense Intelligence James Clapper to step down from his job before nominating him as DNI, in order to help allay concerns about his military background. But Clapper politely refused. He does not want to be out of a job if his confirmation hearing doesn't go well. Here's what the White House feels about the prospects for Clapper's confirmation: The Senate can huff and puff, and Gen. Clapper will certainly make nice, but at the end of the day, who wants to risk not having a national intelligence director? ... Not only was SecDef Robert Gates happy with Clapper's appointment, he recommended Clapper after Obama's preferred candidates, Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel, passed on the job. ... The CIA's statement regarding Clapper's nomination notes that the agency looks forward to working "with" Clapper, not "for" him.

President Obama has nominated a highly qualified intelligence professional to serve as Director of National Intelligence. Jim Clapper has directed two intelligence agencies and has led the Pentagon's intelligence efforts. Few people have more intelligence experience than Jim Clapper. The men and women of the CIA look forward to working closely with him in his new role to strengthen America's national security." 

At midnight, Physicians for Human Rights releases a highly critical report about U.S. detainee policies. Among the allegations, according to published reports: that the CIA used enhanced interrogation techniques to conduct scientific research. That claim is flatly denied by the CIA. 

China is divided. As the internal conflict between China's civillian political leadership and its military complicate military ties with the U.S., China's diplomats are openly expressing their displeasure with North Korea's recent actions, which is probably serving to check (at least temporarily) DPRK aggression.

Sen. Scott Brown took what I perceived as a slap at the White House during his speech to AIPAC's annual dinner tonight: "I don't need polling or political strategists to help define a nuanced stance on Israel. We are engaged in a worldwide struggle against radical, violent jihad. It is the defining issue of our time. Our best friends and the strongest allies in this fight are in the State of Israel." ... Israel's foreign minister, Avidgor Lieberman, arrives in New York. The White House is expected to confirm an imminent Obama-Netanyahu meeting.

House Republicans will continue to press the White House with what they're calling "Sestoff" inquiries into whether the White House sought legal advice from the Justice Department or the White House counsel's office before making job inquiries.

The new iPhone, version 4.0, is expected to be announced tomorrow at WWDC.

Important Tuesday elections, including the ARKANSAS Senate run-off, where everyone expects a very close race between Sen. Blanche Lincoln and her challenger, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. The role of unions' support for Halter has become an issue in the race, which actually suits the unions just fine. ... In CALIFORNIA, voters will decide whether to replace the state's semi-open primaries with a system that advances the top-two vote getters in each race, regardless of party, to the November election for statewide and Congressional elections. Republicans will hold primaries for their gubernatorial and Senate races; Meg Whitman and Carly FIorina are expected to win. ... In NEVADA, Harry Reid, the majority leader, learns who he will face in November; he hopes it will be Tea Party-backed Sharron Angle, who has inched ahead of her competitors in the latest polls. In a tawdry SOUTH CAROLINA gubernatorial primary, Republican Nikki Haley remains solidly in the lead despite allegations of extra-marital affairs. She might have Sarah Palin's help to thank if she advances. ... The most interesting congressional primary is the GOP contest in IOWA 03, where seven Republicans are crowding the field to get the chance to face perennially vulnerable Democrat Leonard Boswell. ... There are also elections, including competitive House primaries, in VA, ME, SD, GA, ND, and NJ.

The news that Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein has been working as an undercover FBI informant is scary to Republicans across the state of Florida -- including, potentially, Gov. Charlie Crist. Recall the bizarre story of how Rothstein paid $250,000 to put his name on Crist's birthday cake at a celebration in 2008.

What the conservative media machine will be focused on tomorrow: Helen Thomas's anti-Semitic remarks and the Cheney-Will smackdown of liberals on This Week with Jake Tapper.
Presented by

Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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