White House defends intelligence chief after interview blunder

09:58, December 23, 2010      

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The White House on Wednesday played defense for the country's chief intelligence official, who blundered on TV and admitted he was not aware of a terror plot in Britain widely reported by the media.

Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security John Brennan told a White House briefing that James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, was working on developments in the Korean Peninsula in terms of political and military developments as the story in Britain unfolded.

"He was focused on trying to provide support to the Congress as far as the START treaty deliberations were concerned. He was engaged in a variety of classified matters," Brennan said.

Brennan acknowledged Clapper should be briefed on the British arrests, and the government has "taken steps to correct that."

The British authorities arrested 12 men on Monday morning in a large-scale national counterterrorism operation. The men -- five from Cardiff, four from Stoke and three from London -- were detained on suspicion of commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism in Britain.

When Clapper was interviewed by ABC's Diane Sawyer Tuesday night, he did not seemed to know about the arrests, and admitted he had not heard about it.

Source: Xinhua

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