Director Of National Intelligence To Resign, "intel failures" & "turf wars" blamed
May 21 2010, 11:35 AM
Joined: 16-October 06
From: arlington va
Member No.: 96
earlier yesterday afternoon (5/20), rumors were swirling in print, but were still unconfirmed:
By EILEEN SULLIVAN
The Associated Press
Thursday, May 20, 2010; 5:38 PM
WASHINGTON -- A government official says Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair is resigning. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement has not been made public.
A retired Navy admiral, Blair is the third director of national intelligence, a position created in response to the 9/11 attacks.
Blair's tenure as the overseer of the nation's intelligence agencies was marked by turf battles with CIA Director Leon Panetta and controversial public comments in the wake of the Christmas Day airliner bombing attempt.
the pretext: a "FAILURE TO CONNECT THE DOTS"
WASHINGTON - Fourteen intelligence failures led to last year's Christmas Day bombing attempt on a Northwest Airlines jet bound for Detroit, according to a Senate report released Tuesday.
The unclassified report by the Senate Intelligence Committee revealed a series of errors - from problems with the terrorist watch list to multiple failures to connect crucial intelligence data on the bombing suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian.
"The Intelligence Community failed to connect and appropriately analyze the information in its possession prior to Dec. 25, 2009, that would have identified Abdulmutallab as a possible terrorist threat to the United States," the report summary said.
It said that Abdulmutallab, whose involvement with Islamic extremists in Yemen was known to U.S. officials, was never entered in a database for screening terrorists or put on a "No-Fly list," nor was his U.S. visa revoked.
"CIA had reports related to Abdulmutallab, but a regional division failed to search other databases that would have identified relevant information," according to the report. It said the CIA only conducted a "limited name search."
The report also was critical of the National Counterterrorism Center, which sits at the hub of all available intelligence. It said the agency was supposed to "connect the key reporting" but "was not adequately organized."
Coming nearly a decade after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the failed Christmas Day bombing showed that, despite numerous investigations and bureaucratic changes, improved security remains elusive.
"It's vital that reforms be made quickly to prevent future attacks by al-Qaida, its affiliates and other terrorist groups," said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the chair of the committee. "The Christmas Day attempt and the recent attempted bombing in Times Square show that we are targets, and we must stay one step ahead of the terrorists."
Added Republican Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri, the committee vice chairman: "We cannot depend on dumb luck, incompetent terrorists and alert citizens to keep our families safe."
The committee advised that the watch list be simplified and strengthened to make it more accessible and useful. Other recommendations include strengthening the visa revocation system, improving the dissemination of intelligence among key agencies and improving intelligence analysis.
The committee said the director of national intelligence, Adm. Dennis Blair, "should examine whether adequate intelligence resources are directed against threats to the Homeland."
The report took issue with the Obama administration's view, as stated by Blair before Congress, that the Christmas bombing attempt wasn't a failure to share intelligence, as 9/11 was, but more a "failure to connect, integrate and understand the intelligence we had."
The report said that some of the same "systemic errors" that surrounded the Christmas Day bombing attempt had been cited as problems even before the 9/11 attacks.
laughable that they would use this bullshit as the reason to get rid of one of their own. people in the intel community must be at least as wise as us in recognizing that these latest homeland "attacks" arent really an actual "terror threat", and they must at least have some hint as to who is really moving these particular chess pieces.
though the body of the following article is the same piece from AP, this headline might be more honest/accurate:
Chief's tenure was marked by turf battles with CIA
-but as outsider im not sure what the nittygrit of the "turf battle" really entails...
Dennis C. Blair will resign Friday as the nation's intelligence director after a tenure marred by the recent failures of U.S. spy agencies to detect terrorist plots and by political missteps that undermined his standing with the White House.
Blair, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, was pushed out 16 months after he became President Obama's surprise pick to be the nation's third director of national intelligence. His departure is likely to renew debate over whether the DNI position, a daunting job created amid sweeping intelligence reforms after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, is fundamentally flawed.
Obama praised Blair's integrity in a prepared statement and said that under his leadership the nation's intelligence services had "performed admirably and effectively at a time of great challenges to our security."
Blair's offer to step down came during a phone conversation with Obama on Thursday in which the president said he planned to put someone new in the director position, according to an official familiar with the exchange. Blair's exit creates a critical national security vacancy at a time when U.S. spy agencies are under pressure to step up their defenses against emerging terrorist threats.
His departure had been rumored in Washington for months, but the nature of his resignation -- without a replacement ready to be named -- suggested a lack of coordination.
The U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said Obama had first raised the possibility of replacing Blair in discussions with him earlier this week. The White House had indicated a preference that Blair stay in the job until a successor could be named. But Blair refused after learning that the president had decided to look for a new director, the official said.
Blair issued a statement saying that it was "with deep regret that I informed the President today that I will step down." He added that during the Obama administration, U.S. spy agencies had become "more integrated, agile, and representative of American values." Blair becomes the highest-ranking member of the administration to resign.
Current and former U.S. officials said the White House had discussed the position with former senator Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), who serves as co-chair of Obama's intelligence advisory board; James R. Clapper, a retired Air Force lieutenant general serving as undersecretary of defense for intelligence; and John Hamre, a former deputy secretary of defense who leads the Defense Policy Board.
Clapper is a leading candidate to replace Blair, a senior White House official said Thursday night, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the search continues. Officials said Hagel told the White House he would not be interested in the position. The former senator was abroad and could not be reached for comment.
Blair had been charged with carrying out Obama's campaign pledge to move the country away from controversial programs -- including the CIA's use of harsh interrogation methods -- that administration officials argued had damaged the nation's standing around the world. But much like his predecessors, Blair struggled to gain traction in a position that is widely seen as lacking adequate authority to oversee an often fractious community of 16 spy services.
Blair sometimes made public remarks that revealed his frustration with the way the intelligence community functions, and that were seen as embarrassing to the administration...
Beyond such blunt statements, the timing of Blair's departure suggests that the White House had lost confidence in him after the agencies he oversees failed to detect relatively unsophisticated terrorist plots. The Christmas Day incident involved a Nigerian man who is accused of smuggling an explosive onboard the aircraft in his underwear. Earlier this month, a naturalized U.S. citizen apparently trained by a Pakistani terrorist group parked a vehicle packed with explosives in the middle of Times Square.
Blair often seemed sidelined by other key members of Obama's national security team. Blair lost a public turf fight with CIA Director Leon Panetta over who had the power to appoint the top U.S. intelligence representative in countries overseas. John O. Brennan, the president's main counterterrorism adviser, is a CIA veteran who has assumed the role of de facto intelligence chief within the White House, often serving as the administration's public face on national security issues.
Blair attended a state dinner at the White House on Wednesday evening. But it was Panetta who accompanied national security adviser James L. Jones this week on a trip to Pakistan to press the government in Islamabad to expand its military campaign against insurgent groups.
David Gompert, who was recently named Blair's principal deputy, will become acting director until the Senate confirms a replacement...
Blair's resignation comes just days after the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence issued a scathing report on U.S. spy agencies' handling of the Christmas Day attack. The report documented 14 distinct failures to take steps that might have prevented the attempted bombing.
Blair's replacement, James R. Clapper:
After his departure from NGA in June 2006, Clapper briefly served as the chief operating officer for Detica DFI, now a US-based subsidiary of BAE Systems. For the 2006-2007 academic year, Clapper held the position of Georgetown University’s Intelligence and National Security Alliance Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Intelligence. While teaching at Georgetown, President George W. Bush officially nominated Clapper to be Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence on 29 January 2007. Clapper was confirmed by the United States Senate on 11 April 2007 and was sworn into office on 13 April 2007. He is only the second person to hold this position, which oversees and provides policy, program, and budgetary guidance to the defense intelligence agencies - DIA, NGA, the National Security Agency (NSA), and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) - and also works closely with the Director of National Intelligence (DNI)...
James R. Clapper, Jr. is a retired Lieutenant General in the United States Air Force and serves as Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence - USD(I). He is also dual-hatted as the first Director of Defense Intelligence within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Clapper has held several key positions within the United States Intelligence Community. He served as the director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) from September 2001 until June 2006. Previously, he served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) from 1992 until 1995.
a more detailed corporate/military bio for clapper:
some random notes from the past:
Senators Warned of Terror Attack on U.S. by July
By MARK MAZZETTI
Published: February 2, 2010
WASHINGTON — America’s top intelligence official told lawmakers on Tuesday that Al Qaeda and its affiliates had made it a high priority to attempt a large-scale attack on American soil within the next six months.
The assessment by Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence, was much starker than his view last year, when he emphasized the considerable progress in the campaign to debilitate Al Qaeda and said that the global economic meltdown, rather than the prospect of a major terrorist attack, was the “primary near-term security concern of the United States.”
At Tuesday’s hearing, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California and chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, asked Mr. Blair to assess the possibility of an attempted attack in the United States in the next three to six months.
He replied, “The priority is certain, I would say” — a response that was reaffirmed by the top officials of the C.I.A. and the F.B.I.
Citing a recent wave of terrorist plots, including the failed Dec. 25 attempt to blow up an airliner as it approached Detroit, Mr. Blair and other intelligence officials told a Senate panel that Al Qaeda had adjusted its tactics to more effectively strike American targets domestically and abroad.
“The biggest threat is not so much that we face an attack like 9/11,” said Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director. “It is that Al Qaeda is adapting its methods in ways that oftentimes make it difficult to detect.”
In another departure from last year’s testimony, Mr. Blair appeared alongside other top intelligence officials, including the heads of the C.I.A., the F.B.I. and the Defense Intelligence Agency. Last year, the intelligence director sat alone before the committee, a partly symbolic gesture intended to demonstrate the authority of the director, whose office has been criticized for commanding little power over America’s 16 intelligence agencies.
video from over a year ago:
Jan. 9 - Obama nominated Leon Panetta as CIA director, and retired Admiral Dennis Blair to oversee all U.S. spy agencies as director of national intelligence.
"Spies from outside the fold"
july 2009 - Feingold Hits Obama’s Intel Chief: You’re Wrong, CIA Officials May Have Broken Law
I told you last week that it was a big deal when Obama’s top intelligence guy defended that secret, controversial CIA program as legal, because it’s bound to result in a standoff between Congressional Dems and the White House.
Now Senator Russ Feingold is directly challenging the White House on the issue. I’ve obtained a terse, toughly-worded letter that Feingold has fired off to Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, faulting him for saying it was legal for the CIA to launch the secret program without telling Congress, and demanding that he account for the claim — a move that could put the White House in an awkward spot.
Feingold was responding to Blair’s comments to The Washington Post, in which he claimed the CIA didn’t break the law by heeding Dick Cheney’s request to keep Congress in the dark about plans to create small teams to assassinate Al Qaeda leaders. In his letter, which hasn’t yet been released, Feingold says:
According to a story on Thursday in the Washington Post, you stated that the failure to notify the congressional intelligence committees about a program recently cancelled by CIA Director Leon Panetta did not violate the law. I disagree and believe that the program in question fit squarely within the notification requirements of the National Security Act. I therefore request that you provide me with your analysis, and any analysis by the DNI General Counsel, supporting your conclusion.
Feingold’s gauntlet creates an awkward choice for the White House. It can either walk back Blair’s comments, or openly defend the program as legal, putting the White House at odds with House Dems who are probing the program for possible lawbreaking. It’ll interesting to see how the White House defends the CIA’s program’s legality — or whether it does.
Update: Feingold’s spokesperson says that his letter is raising questions specifically about the legality of not informing Congress of the program. He has not publicly commented on the legality of the program itself, though he’s privately raised concerns about it to the White House. Since absolute precision is required on such matters, I’ve edited the above to reflect this, though some will see this as a distinction without a difference.
|Lo-Fi Version||Time is now: 19th June 2013 - 04:02 PM|