Skip to comments.US spy chief quits after intelligence failures (Intelligence Director-designate Dennis Blair)
Posted on 05/21/2010 2:43:46 AM PDT by Libloather
US spy chief quits after intelligence failures
Posted: 21 May 2010 1657 hrs
WASHINGTON: After a string of intelligence failures, US spy czar Dennis Blair announced his resignation, ending a 16-month tenure marred by rumblings of infighting in the US clandestine services.
Blair, who announced on Thursday that he was quitting as director of national intelligence, will be the most high-profile figure yet to leave President Barack Obama's national security team.
He faced heavy criticism after the attempt by an Al-Qaeda linked group to bring down a US airliner on December 25 and some of the 16 US intelligence agencies he coordinates also came under fire over the Fort Hood massacre in November, and the attempted Times Square bombing this month.
Some Republicans however charged that Blair had been made a scapegoat for wider administration flaws on intelligence, and used the shake-up to open a new row on national security with the White House.
"It is with deep regret that I informed the president today that I will step down as director of national intelligence effective Friday, May 28th," Blair, a retired admiral, said in a statement.
"I have had no greater honour or pleasure than to lead the remarkably talented and patriotic men and women of the intelligence community," he said, praising them as "true heroes."
"Every day, you have worked tirelessly to provide intelligence support for two wars and to prevent an attack on our homeland."
Obama paid tribute in a statement to Blair's "remarkable record of service" and said he had "performed admirably and effectively" as Director of National Intelligence.
"Over the course of many decades, Admiral Blair has served with great integrity, intellect, and commitment to our country and the values that we hold dear," he said, noting "his sense of purpose and patriotism."
A US official said on condition of anonymity that Obama had already interviewed several "strong" candidates to replace Blair as director of national intelligence, a post set up after the September 11, 2001 attacks to plug intelligence gaps.
His departure was preceded by months of rumours that he was losing the confidence of the White House.
Just this week, Obama dispatched Central Intelligence Agency director Leon Panetta and national security advisor James Jones to Pakistan, to discuss anti-terror cooperation and intelligence following the failed Times Square attack.
Blair did not make the trip.
In recent months, there have been leaked accounts in the US media of turf wars and clashes between rival centres of power in the intelligence world -- especially between Panetta and Blair.
Obama has also leaned heavily on his top White House counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan, who has often been the public face of White House efforts to keep Americans safe and head off future terror attacks.
Blair's departure comes just days after the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence issued a damning report on failures leading up to the attempt to blow up a Northwest jet over Detroit on December 25. A Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, is held for the attack.
In an unclassified summary of its investigation, the committee said "systemic failures" opened the way for the 23-year-old accused plotter, who allegedly had explosives sewn into his underwear and has been linked to Al-Qaeda.
The committee noted failures to revoke Abdulmutallab's visa, place him on the "no-fly list," connect and correlate different pieces of information, as well as the CIA's failure to share information about suspicions he was plotting an attack.
The intelligence director has also come under fire for failing to piece together tell-tale signs ahead of the November 5 shooting spree at Fort Hood army base in Texas.
An army psychiatrist, Major Nidal Hasan, has been charged with carrying out the killing of 12 soldiers and one civilian.
Both Hasan and Abdulmutallab were believed to be inspired by a radical US-born Islamic cleric now in Yemen.
Republican lawmakers assailed Obama's handling of intelligence matters as they heard of Blair's departure.
Pete Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said the resignation was a "disturbing sign" and accused Obama of "micromanagment" of intelligence, and "rampant politicization of national security."
Senator Joe Lieberman, chair of the Senate Homeland Security Commitee, said he was "sorry" to learn of Blair's resignation.
"I look forward to talking with the admiral to understand why he is leaving his office now," he said.
WASHINGTON For months, National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair has been a dead man walking and he knew it. So constant and vicious were the leaks from the White House and Congress of his imminent departure that he opened a recent speech on intelligence reform with a joke that his replacement would be Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb.
The crowd's laughter was just a little uncomfortable, as Blair himself spotlighted the elephant in the room by suggesting that even the just-traded NFL star was being mentioned to fill the job.
Everyone seemed to know this just wasn't working.
His 16-month tenure had been studded with public intelligence failures, turf wars and that uniquely inside-the-Beltway ritual humiliation via leaks to the press.
Blair's official decision to step down came Thursday after an Oval office meeting with President Barack Obama, according to two senior congressional staffers. They said it became clear by the end of the meeting that Blair had "lost the confidence of the president."
In a message to his work force, Blair said his last day would be May 28.
This is an excerpt
I do not know very much about Blair, but I would guess his situation borders on doing the impossible. While the rules of engagement for our troops, border on the suicidal, they are even worse for the intelligence community. When the inmates are in charge of the asylum, there is little hope for the staff.
The wrong guy was executed.
The entire administration, if they owe one ounce of loyalty to this country...should resign, and Obama should top the list. But he won’t, and America will be attacked again and this time more Americans will die. The MSM, except for Fox and talk radio, will cover Zero’s butt again.
At some point Janet Napolitano will be thrown under the bus, or maybe Panetta, to be replaced by Van Jones or someone of his ilk. Until Obama is replaced by someone born in the US, who loves the US more than his own life, we’re all in terrible danger. One more thing: if the US is ‘nothing special’, then why does Aunt Zetuni want to stay? Other than being supported for life by the rest of us. She should hit the road for Kenya and take her lying, narcissistic, communist nephew with her.
FAILURE is the right word, and it’s not just intelligence, it’s every single czar and fool in the Obama administration.
The GOP should a campaign tape of this third world tinhorn bashing the USA and the hypocritical, America hating, RATS giving him a standing “O” in the upcoming election.
When you’re battling Muslim terror and are not allowed to say the words “Muslim terror,” it makes the job a bit difficult...
I’d like to think Adm. Blair was leaving because he had no confidence in BO’s administration but I doubt it. He had to be weak to even accept the job with that bunch of crazies.
Panetta is doing a pretty good job at CIA, and he seems to have defended the agency from the political witch-hunt some on the left have been demanding. I'm curious what basis you would have for wanting him fired?
From my read I agree with what you said also.
I agree. That is just the tip of the iceberg of treason.
Blair takes it up the butt for Obama’s misguided foreign policy, appeasement of the Muslims, and general inattention to domestic preparedness, as the president dithers and whines over the healthcare boondoggle, bank takeover, and a variety of other, equally misguided socialist schemes.
I don’t have an opinion on Adm. Blair’s performance as Director of National Intelligence. However, I worked with him from roughly 2000 to 2003. He is a decent man, a patriot and not a partisan hack. Service to our country is one of his core values and I suspect that he was in a no win position.
Wasn’t Adm. Blair the guy who chastized Congress for giving out classified informtion just to score political points? IIRC he gave testimony to one of the intelligence committees, and complained on the record that some of them couldn’t keep their mouths shut.
He is da man!