Intelligence Chief Says Afghanistan Leader Unlikely to Sign Security Pact

James Clapper says Hamid Karzai probably won't strike a deal for U.S. troops to stay

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A U.S. Army soldier from 3rd Platoon Chaos Company 1-75 Cavalry 2nd Brigade 101st Airborne Devision points his gun during a patrol in Siah Choy village in Zari district of Kandahar province, south of Afghanistan on Oct. 24, 2010.

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan is unlikely to sign a security agreement allowing American troops to stay in the country through the end of this year, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Tuesday.

During a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the committee chairman, asked Clapper  if it might be best to concede now that the U.S. will need to wait until the Karzai’s successor takes office to finalize the security agreement.

“Well, obviously it takes two to sign this. And it’s my own view, not necessarily company policy,” Clapper said, making a distinction between the official position and his personal assessment, “I don’t believe President Karzai is going to sign it.”

The Obama administration has been pushing for the security pact to give it breathing room as it works to decide whether to leave a contingent of U.S. troops in the country or pull out altogether. Karzai has turned cold on the agreement in recent weeks, even though the loya jirga—a powerful committee of 2,500 elders from around Afghanistan—gave its approval to the pact.