May 20th, 2010
05:29 PM ET
4 years ago

Top Obama intelligence official resigns

ALT TEXT Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair has resigned. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)

Washington (CNN) – The president's top intelligence adviser, Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair, has announced his resignation, effective Friday.

Blair, a retired four-star Navy admiral, has served in the post since January 29, 2009. His office oversees 17 federal agencies of the U.S. "intelligence community," including the CIA, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

Word of Blair's resignation comes just two days after the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report that sharply criticized the National Counterterrorism Center - overseen by Blair's office - for failing to properly coordinate intelligence activities to detect the botched Christmas Day airline bombing in advance.

The report said the center, created after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to coordinate U.S. intelligence efforts, was "not organized adequately to fulfill its missions."

In addition, the report said other problems allowed suspect Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab to board a flight bound for Detroit, Michigan, in December with an explosive device that failed to detonate. AbdulMutallab was detained when other passengers noticed his clothes burning from his attempt to set off the device.

The report identified 14 "points of failure" in the incident, most of which have been raised previously by intelligence officials, including the failure of the State Department to revoke the suspect's U.S. visa, a breakdown in disseminating all information to key agencies and the failure to conduct necessary searches for information.

Blair responded to the report by noting changes made in response to the Christmas incident, including creation of a National Counterterrorism Center analytical unit dedicated to following up on terrorist threat information. However, Blair's statement noted that "institutional and technological barriers remain that prevent seamless sharing of information."

The issue of whether AbdulMutallab should have been read is Miranda rights also came into question. During congressional hearings on the case in January, FBI Direct Robert Mueller said AbdulMutallab was interviewed twice by what Mueller called some of the best FBI agents. Officials said the first interrogation lasted about 50 minutes, and the second was shorter.

AbdulMutallab provided information that "has already proved useful in the fight against al Qaeda," Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.

It was after the second interrogation that AbdulMutallab was read his Miranda rights - rights under U.S. law that are read to individuals before arrest. At that point, he stopped talking to the agents.

Blair, at the time, testified that a newly created high-value, detainee-interrogation group, or HIG, should have been brought into the loop.

"That unit was created exactly for this purpose: to make a decision on whether a certain person who is detained should be treated as a case for federal prosecution or for some of the other means," he said.

However, Blair later discovered that HIG was not yet operational, a revelation that surprised many senators. He also said he hadn't been consulted on the decision to read AbdulMutallab his Miranda rights.


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soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Dave

    I wouldn't want that job either. Unrealistic expectations with extreme scrutiny make for a lot of recrimination. I think we should be working as a nation to provide these tools and keep our weaknesses contained or obscured.

    May 20, 2010 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  2. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Resignations are nothing new in every administration, move on.

    May 20, 2010 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  3. Special Pundit

    A four star navy Admiral ! Swab the poop decks mate and check the starboard for arabs. Hey fellow Americans what about stripping a convicted terrorist of their U.S. citizenship? Who the hell cares about U.S. citizenship when illegal aliens have more rights and benefits than a real citizen. A sad day indeed, Maybe if we all renounced our citizenship we could get in state tuition and have some fools pander to us as future voters.

    May 20, 2010 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  4. doug

    The President needs to Put Brennan out next. The White House is trying to shift the blame to the government types, the agency gods.
    His team is horrible at keeping the country safe.

    May 20, 2010 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  5. leaning right....

    but I thought the gov did everything right... I thought we were doing a better job.... I mean I watch msnbc and the coverage has been way more positive then in the past... I am so confused... if it was this bad and it involves the security of this country why would the president not step in, not fire him , not make a comment, not get involved???? I mean he's all over this Arizona thing.... I mean he JUMPED ALL OVER that police officer in Cambridge!!! LMAO wow just wow

    May 20, 2010 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  6. leaning right....

    another words this guy is trying to build a house without a hammer!! and that's why he wasn't fired but instead walked, what an inexcusable mess!!! this administration should be embarrassed and this is why life long democrats are jumping ship!!! They really don't know what they are doing!!!

    May 20, 2010 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  7. Willy Brown

    Looks like he got ran out for a new Czar to be named later.

    May 20, 2010 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  8. Jim Morrison

    What took him so long?

    May 20, 2010 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  9. MAD MAX TEXAN

    Finally someone on OBAMA's staff comes to his senses.

    May 20, 2010 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
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