Intelligence chief James Clapper was interviewed by ABC News Monday afternoon, hours after the arrests of 12 people in Britain became public, and when questioned about the situation's possible impact on the United States, Clapper appeared flatfooted and later admitted he didn't know about it.
ABC interviewer Diane Sawyer told Clapper she was "a little surprised you didn't know about London." "Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't," he responded.
Clapper, who was interviewed along with John Brennan, the White House counterterrorism adviser, was asked about the arrests but the initial question simply referred to "London." After Clapper drew a blank, Brennan stepped in, saying the British alerted the United States while the arrests were going on.
Brennan initially blamed Clapper's inability to respond Sawyer's question on its ambiguity, but admitted Wednesday Clapper had not been briefed.
"He was working on developments in the Korean Peninsula in terms of political and military developments. 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 Tuesday.
"Should he have been briefed by his staff on those arrests? Yes. And I know there was breathless attention by the media about these arrests, and it was constantly on the news networks. I'm glad that Jim Clapper is not sitting in front of the TV 24 hours a day and monitoring what's coming out of the media.
"And his not being briefed yesterday afternoon -- this is something that they've acknowledged that he should have been briefed on. They've taken steps to correct that now, and if that happens again I'm sure that he is going to be au courant."