DNI Dennis Blair's resignation will be effective next Friday, according to the Associated Press. Deputy National Intelligence Director David Gompert will become acting director until a permanent replacement is named.President Obama has already interviewed a number of replacement candidates for the very difficult DNI's job. The AP article reported that the person at the head of the list is James R. Clapper, the Pentagon's top intelligence official, current and former U.S. officials said Friday.
Jake Tapper, ABC News White House correspondent, broke the story that President Obama would accept Admiral Blair's resignation on Wednesday afternoon. Tapper's story revealed some interesting details about the change. Blair was forced out, it seems, over a number of issues. An anonymous official said,
. . . Clapper currently is defense undersecretary for intelligence.. . .[Press Secretary] Gibbs was publicly supportive of Blair Friday, commending him for increasing the government's focus on counterterrorism and radicalization, particularly in Afghanistan and Southeast Asia. Still, he said the president believed it was time to make a change. "There is probably no harder job in Washington, besides being president, than being director of national intelligence," he said. "The president simply believed that it was time to transition to a different director."
Blair is the third person to hold the director of national intelligence job, which is to oversee the nation's 16 intelligence agencies. The post was created in response to the failure to prevent the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
. . . As the Pentagon's new intelligence chief in 2007, Clapper recommended an end to the anti-terror database TALON that had been criticized for improperly storing information on peace activists and others whose actions posed no threat. Defense Secretary Robert Gates approved Clapper's recommendation, the Pentagon said at the time.
. . . Before working at the geospatial-intelligence agency, he was an executive at defense contracting firms such as Vredenburg; Booz Allen Hamilton; and SRA International.
. . . 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.
The news will not come as a surprise to those in the intelligence community. For months, Blair has turf battles while the White House made it clear that it had more confidence in others, such as counterterrorism and homeland security adviser John Brennan, taking the lead both publicly and privately. Last November, the White House sided with CIA director Leon Panetta when Blair attempted, against Panetta’s wishes, to pick the chief U.S. intelligence officer in each country, a job that traditionally has gone to the CIA station chief. Just this week – after a scathing report on intelligence failures and [Christmas day bomber] Abdulmuttalab by the Senate Intelligence Committee — Blair acknowledged in a statement that “institutional and technological barriers remain that prevent seamless sharing of information.” The Senate Committee report was a strong message of disapproval of the job being done by Blair and the National Counterterrorism Center.
For Reference: The subject of National Intelligence has long been thoroughly covered at South by Southwest. Following is a list of past posts regarding the previous three Directors of National Intelligence :Dennis Blair – December 7, 2008 January 2, 2009 January 15, 2009 February 14, 2009 February 15, 2009 March 13, 2009 September 2, 2009
Mike McConnell – January 5, 2007 August 4, 2007 September 11, 2007 September 19, 2007 September 22, 2007 September 24, 2007 October 1, 2007 October 6, 2007 October 31, 2007 December 16, 2007 January 17, 2008 (1) January 17, 2008 (2) February 26, 2008 March 7, 2008 March 8, 2008 July 19, 2008 July 31, 2008 August 2, 2008 October 30, 2008 November 8, 2008
His respect for civil liberties was always marginal. He also could be very loose with the truth in testimony before Congress, or his public pronouncements. He served as President-elect Obama's national security briefer from the time of his election to when Admiral Blair came on board. Thus President Obama's views and approaches to national security were, in my opinion, heavily influenced by McConnell's values and perceptions.