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James R. Clapper, Obama’s former national security adviser, selected as Maryland’s winter graduation speaker

Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 8, 2017, before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee.
Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 8, 2017, before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP)

Former President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, James R. Clapper, will be the winter graduation speaker at Maryland, College Park, the university announced Tuesday.

Clapper led the United States intelligence community as the fourth director of national intelligence from August 2010 to January 2017. He was the principal intelligence adviser to Obama.

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“It is a true honor to be chosen to speak at the University of Maryland’s commencement,” Clapper said in a statement from the university. “I look forward to returning to my alma mater to address the graduating class on their momentous day.”

Clapper graduated from Maryland in 1963 with a bachelor’s degree in government and politics. The former intelligence director will deliver his commencement address at Xfinity Center on Dec. 17.

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University President Wallace D. Loh said Clapper will be able to share an “important” messages with the graduates.

“During his half century serving our nation’s security, General Clapper earned a reputation for helping unify the Intelligence Services and speaking truth to power," Loh said in a statement.

Before working in the Obama administration, Clapper served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and the Air Force beginning in 1961. He was also director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

After serving more than 30 years, Clapper retired from the armed forces and worked for intelligence companies while consulting and advising Congress and the departments of Defense and Energy. He was also a member of various government boards, including the National Security Agency Advisory Board and the Downing Assessment Task Force.

Two days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Clapper returned to the government full time as the first civilian director of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (now called the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency). Clapper served two other administrations as the main adviser to the secretary and deputy secretary on intelligence, counterintelligence and security matters. He was also director of defense intelligence for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Throughout his tenure, Clapper has won various awards for his service and work in the intelligence community, including the presidentially conferred National Security Medal.

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