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. independent

    It's not Friday afternoon, so I don't smell a scandal. What are the facts: personal reasons, better job opp?

    May 20, 2010 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  2. Eric -Tulsa

    That all we get...why?

    May 20, 2010 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  3. Brickell Princess

    Eight years of dark Republican rule under George W. Bush have destroyed the NSA.

    No one wants to work there. Morale is on the floor.

    Thanks a lot Bush!

    May 20, 2010 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  4. Erin

    So this man has to resign because our policies handling airport security and anti-terrorism are at best reactive and ineffective? He takes the blame for something that was never designed properly in the first place? I really just don't get it.

    May 20, 2010 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  5. av

    Why does it seem that the most important jobs in America are held by men that seem to be past retirement age?

    May 20, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  6. Rob

    Good riddance, now lets get the rest of these do-NOTHINGS working in our government out.

    May 20, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  7. Jon

    Do any of these people know what they are doing?? Or are they ALL just lawyers??

    May 20, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  8. me

    I guess he's had enough Obama cool-aid, or else is just the scape goat for this pathetic administration.

    May 20, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  9. jk

    Let's hope Eric Holder is next!

    May 20, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  10. cspurgeon

    Congress and the media is going to bring this country down. They are so busy assessing blame we have forgotten how to come together to make this country suceed.

    May 20, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  11. JakeF20

    A man who has taken the criticism to heart and accepted responsibility for the agencies that were under his control.

    You don't see that much today, do you? Although there will be the chirping from the fringe on this thread, Mr. Blair did what he thought was right without blaming anyone else but himself.

    May 20, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  12. Boycott Rush`s Sponsors

    Poor guy,he can always get a job with Rush Limbaugh or Snerdly.

    May 20, 2010 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  13. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Yes DHS sounded like a good idea. However it doesn't seem like it makes much difference. As with the private sector – everyone wants to take credit for their own team to get promoted at the expense of others.

    May 20, 2010 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  14. Oregon Dem

    I think this is a mistake. Dennis Blair is a qualified person to run this office. The Fact that someone was able to get on one of our aircraft with an explosive device is not out of the realm of possibility. We need to stop criticizing and start supporting these qualified people appointed by the President. We are quick to judge and to blame and slow to support. How can people expect that in this short period of time that everything will be "fixed". I am sorry that Dennis Blair resigned and hope it was not at the prompting of those within the White House.

    May 20, 2010 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  15. Kevin Morrison

    The revolving door of incompetence continues to turn.

    May 20, 2010 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  16. Biff Jones

    OK. So when is Obama going to resign?

    May 20, 2010 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  17. Travis

    I think Obama should hire Jack Bauer.. the terrorist would probably just give up when they here jack bauer would be after them.

    May 20, 2010 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  18. jstmyview

    We need somebody who can get their feet off the desk, put the coffee down, pull up there pants and focus on the task at hand!

    May 20, 2010 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  19. Tangerine

    Shame on him and his record of failures.

    May 20, 2010 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  20. Bob Ramos

    Word of Blair's resignation comes just two days after the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report that sharply criticized the National Counterterrorism Center – one of several agencies 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."
    --------------------

    None of this was Blair's fault nor the fault of the three that preceded him. Since the Center has no way to compel actions by the intel agencies it is supposed to coordinate, there is just no way it can do its job. Either the Center is given the statutory authority to knock heads or it needs to be abolished.

    May 20, 2010 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  21. Nurse Lisa

    Being the director of National Intelligence and creating a whole new center to analyze intel and prepare for counterterrorism despite our bloated agencies and czars already doing the same things, and the admission of still not being able to achieve a seamless sharing of intelligence sounds like he resigned before he could be fired.

    May 20, 2010 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  22. Maurey

    Gee, could he know something that we all know? Obama's gotta go!

    May 20, 2010 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  23. stevegee

    Good riddance! Now if only we could get Obama, Pelosi, Reid and all the rest of the socialists to resign?

    May 20, 2010 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  24. frank la may

    another Obama loser leaves. too bad we can't get ride of the real problem which is Obama.

    frank la may

    May 20, 2010 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  25. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Thin- skinned much? New sheriff in town. You screw-up we call you the mat, NOT sweep your mistakes UNDER it.

    Sorry Mr. Blair but this President is only allowed x number of mistakes, don't-cha-know? They've had the proctologist's scope as far up as it will go in him from day one. He can't afford, nor can we quite frankly, to have a major snafu in the national security sector.

    So see ya quitter. Thanks for giving up as opposed to STEPPING UP!

    May 20, 2010 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
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