Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair resigns 

Eli Lake of The Washington Times’ reports:

Dennis C. Blair, the president’s most senior intelligence adviser, became the first high-profile departure from President Obama’s national security team on Thursday.

Mr. Blair, director of national intelligence, announced his resignation, effective May 28 in a five-sentence statement that ended with praise for the national intelligence bureaucracy he will no longer command. “Keep it up – I will be cheering for you,” he said.

A U.S. official in a position to know said, “We have been interviewing several strong candidates to be his replacement.”

Among the candidates are former Deputy Defense Secretary John J. Hamre, now president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies; retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper, the deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence; and Michael G. Vickers, a former CIA official and currently the Pentagon’s assistant secretary of defense for special operations.

Mr. Blair, a retired Navy admiral who served under President Clinton as commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, was at times viewed by analysts as out of step with the White House. Mr. Blair’s first choice to chair the National Intelligence Council, Charles “Chas” Freeman was pressured to resign. Mr. Blair also had to retract criticism he made publicly about the administration’s decision to pursue a civil trial for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, charged as the would-be Christmas Day jetliner bomber.

For example, Mr. Blair told a Senate hearing in January that Mr. Abdulmutallab should have been interrogated by a special unit created for high-value terrorism suspects.

Though I was hardly they only one thinking this, back in January I speculated that Blair was on the way out as indicated by his willingness to criticize the administration at Senate hearing. Under Blair’s watch there were a number of bureaucratic turf wars between the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that may have inhibted the free flow of intelligence that could have prevented underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s Christmas day attack.

Finally, Blair was the one who selected Chas Freeman for the National Intelligence Council, before Freeman withdrew his name for the post over questions about ties to the Saudi government and an email where he appeared to support the Chinese government’s decision to crack down on pro-democracy protesters in Tienanmen Square.

The Obama administration waited long enough to save face before letting him go, but Blair’s resignation is due to a series of national security failures.

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Mark Hemingway

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