Complete Guide to Possible Director of National Intelligence Replacements

Pundits float a few candidates

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The news that Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair will resigned was met almost instantaneously with speculation about who would replace him at the high-level national security post. Here are the possible candidates, who's floating them, and what pundits are saying.

James R. Clapper  The retired Air Force Lt. General currently fills two jobs: Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Director of Defense Intelligence, for which he worked in the office of the DNI.

  • The New York Times' Mark Mazzetti writes, "A senior administration official said that a top candidate to replace Admiral Blair is James R. Clapper, the Pentagon's top intelligence official."
  • The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes warns, "If Obama nominates James Clapper, expect some pushback from Hill GOPers. Several have been very unhappy in their dealings with him."
  • National Journal's Shane Harris approves. "Jim Clapper: completely qualified, gets along with Bob Gates, which is key to the job," he writes. "Jim Clapper might be the most seasoned and revered snr intel official in gov. Gates can get another intel chief. The bench for DNI is thin."
  • The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder goes in-depth. "Clapper would be an inspired choice, but it is not clear whether he would have agreed to accept the job unless he had total budget authority and the White House and Congress's permission to streamline the entire enterprise." Ambinder lists pros and cons.

John O. Brennan  A long-time CIA official, former Counterterrorism Center chief, and current White House adviser, he has been a highly visible figure.

  • NBC's Chuck Todd evaluates, "Most obvious candidate is POTUS' chief terror/homeland adviser John Brennan but it might actually be a step down in influence for him."
  • The Weekly Standard's Michael Anton makes the case against. "His record of insouciance, political correctness, misleading statements and naivety is long and rich."

Chuck Hagel  The former GOP Senator from Nebraska was involved in military and national security matters while in office. He was floated as a possible Secretary of Defense when President Obama began assembling his cabinet.

  • The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes suggests, "One [possibility]: Chuck Hagel. GOPer, ex-military, co-chair of President's Intel Advisory Board for Obama."
  • The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder appraises, "Hagel would be feared by the military intelligence establishment, but he gets along with CIA director Leon Panetta, who will not be leaving his job."
  • Foreign Policy's David Rothkopf evaluates, "Hagel is smart and respected but has a reputation for being a bit challenging to deal with at times."

Other Possibilities  Both Clintons are among the floated names.

  • The Washington Times' Eli Lake lists, "Deputy Defense Secretary John J. Hamre, now president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies ... and Michael G. Vickers, a former CIA official and currently the Pentagon's assistant secretary of defense for special operations."
  • The Washington Post's Greg Miller also cites Hamre as the third possibility after Clapper and Hagel.
  • The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder adds, "Joint Chiefs Vice Chair Gen. James Cartwright, Ambassador to India Tim Roemer, and ASD/Special Ops, and former Pres. Bill Clinton."
  • Foreign Policy's David Rothkopf floats Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator Jack Reed, Deputy National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, and his favorite, former Senator Tom Daschle.
  • Newsweek's Mark Hoseball sighs, "Already, some Washington insiders are handicapping possible successors to Blair: one list drawn up by intelligence insiders contains 13 names"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.