Intelligence Director Nominee Faces a Grilling

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"We are happy that the Defense Department and Armed Service Committee love you, but frankly that raises some eyebrows," he said. [See who donates the most money to Bond.]

Bond also questioned Clapper's public dealings with lawmakers, saying he was "far too reluctant and reactive" in his previous appeances before the committee. And he complained that the White House's counterterrorism chief, John Brennan, has taken up the intelligence oversight role that belongs to the DNI chief.

Bond warned before the hearing that he would consider putting a hold on Clapper's nomination if he's not satisfied with Clapper's responses and with follow-up questions that senators will send to Clapper in the next day or so.

Clapper's hearing was delayed as part of a debate within Congress over whether to prevent the nomination from going forward until the White House signed off on the authorization bill.

Passed in the Senate, the 2010 bill is still in a holding pattern on the House side, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., bargains with the administration over further expanding intelligence oversight. In her opening statement, Feinstein urged the House to pass the bill.

Earlier Tuesday, the top two advisers on the 9/11 Commission — former Commission Chairman Tom Kean and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton — called for Obama to put a similar effort into intelligence reform that he put into health care.

Hamilton said Obama needs to set out how he would clarify the DNI chief's role to give the agency more funding and legal authority.

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