Just 16 months after he was appointed as the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Dennis Blair has resigned. He had endured a rocky tenure as the DNI, an office with sweeping powers that was created only five years ago. President Obama reportedly compelled Blair, a former four-star Admiral, to step down. Here's why it happened.
- Obama Lost 'Confidence' In Blair ABC's Jake Tapper explains how Blair lost "the full and complete confidence" of President Obama, starting with "a number of intelligence failures involving the Fort Hood shooter, failed Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouq Abdulmuttalab, and questions about failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad."
The ultimate reason Blair is gone is because of the dissatisfaction President Obama and the National Security Staff had with Blair’s ability to share intelligence in a tight, coherent and timely way.
This was, the official said, the result of long pent-up dissatisfaction with Blair as the principal intelligence adviser to the president, responsible for briefing the president every day and briefing the National Security Staff. In short, officials didn’t think the briefings were relevant to what the president was focused on that day or time period. They weren’t crisp or well-presented.
At other times, Blair didn’t seem to take "no" for an answer, the official said. He was pushing an initiative dealing with intelligence and other countries, and he kept pushing it even after President Obama turned it down.
- Bad Relationships With White House and CIA The New York Times' Mark Mazzetti writes, "The former admiral’s departure had been rumored for months. His relationship with the White House was rocky since the start of the Obama administration, and he also fought a rear guard action against efforts by the Central Intelligence Agency to cut down the size and power of the national intelligence director’s staff."
- Recent Report Slammed Blair's Intel Work The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder reminds us, "Two days ago, a Senate committee released a scathing report on the efficacy of Blair's Office of the Director of National Intelligence, particularly the National Counterterrorism Center, which apparently did not view the integration of tactical threat intelligence as its top priority. Blair has worn out his welcome at the White House. The National Security Staff lost confidence in his ability to prioritize and to solve the intelligence community's mammoth bureaucratic hassles."
- Publicly Criticized White House The Washington Times' Eli Lake shows how Blair got "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."
- Shows Difference Between Bush and Obama The Washington Independent's Spencer Ackerman muses, "it’s telling that President Obama will have fired an intelligence chief after several low-grade attempted terrorist attacks failed but President Bush didn’t fire his after a major domestic terrorist attack succeeded."
- DNI Job Still Not Well Defined NBC's Chuck Todd points out, "One HUGE issue re: the DNI is that since its creation post-9/11, no detailed job description; IDEA of DNI & implementation never matched."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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