May 20th, 2010
05:29 PM ET
5 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. sjazz444

    instutional and technological barriers? maybe white house still has a long way to go towards resolving our security problems. we see these bickerings amongst our intelligence agencies as portrayed in hollywood. one would think those were mere fabrications of the writers to make their scripts appealing, but such statements as blair's confirm the fact that these instutional complexes exist. maybe its about time we started tearing down some of these agencies since they have they've their objectives – the proctection of the lives of US citizens. it does appear we've watching over ourselves in recent years.

    May 20, 2010 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    instutional and technological barriers? maybe white house still has a long way to go towards resolving our security problems. we see these bickerings amongst our intelligence agencies as portrayed in hollywood. one would think those were mere fabrications of the writers to make their scripts appealing, but such statements as blair's confirm the fact that these instutional complexes exist. maybe its about time we started tearing down some of these agencies since they have lost their objectives – the proctection of the lives of US citizens. it does appear we've watching over ourselves in recent years.

    May 20, 2010 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  3. Bill M

    Finally, Obama administration is getting rid of incompetent people.

    May 20, 2010 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  4. Mariann Pepitone

    The Obama administration blames everyone but themselves when things go wrong. And what does Napolitano do besides nothing. She certainly doesn't quality for the job she has. Maybe Blair did the right thing by resigning from Obama's administration. It appears that Obama has had several people resign. If that incident happened in December how come its coming to the light now.

    May 20, 2010 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  5. Winkandanod

    If this were the Bush administration, he'd be recieving the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

    May 20, 2010 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  6. Biased

    It has been quite obvious that those in the Obama administration didn't like him from the start. Since there always has to be someone to blame with this WH, I am surprised they didn't throw him under the bus sooner.

    May 20, 2010 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  7. Gordon Harwell

    Good for Mr. Blair. Enough is enough, even for large amounts of money. I do not see any constructive leadership with the current as well as the past one. Just very bad politics. It all comes down to the money (e.g. the BP oil spill, and the illegal invasion in Iraq during the Bush, Cheny administration, etc.) I'm a disabled combat veteran from Desert Storm. The statement I just wrote still makes me extremely mad considering the many lies that were told to the American people concerning the Iraq invasion. Saddam Hussan had nothing to do with WMD, et.al.

    The United States is the MOST powerful country in the world, but every empire falls, and not just the popular Roman empire. Unfortunately, this US empire is falling faster that I originally thought. All of this makes me sick !!

    On to Southeast Asia !!!!

    May 20, 2010 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  8. Don Higgins

    Bravo, Admiral Blair! Intelligence gathering is not a liberal democrat social program.

    May 20, 2010 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  9. John H.

    We should let Congress and its multitude of oversight committees handle our intelligence networks. One look at their bumbling, idiotic political antics and the people of the United States would throw up their hands and declare "the U. S. is lost!"

    May 20, 2010 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  10. nathan

    Yes we know its all hat socialist President Obama's fault but instead of posting here all day long, how about getting a JOB Mr/Ms Tea Party? Here on the left we cant keep up because some of us actually work.

    May 20, 2010 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  11. Bri Guy

    Good riddance. Very tired of the Obusha presidency.

    May 20, 2010 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  12. quiet1

    Always nice to have a fall guy willing to fall on the sword

    May 20, 2010 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  13. Greg Heritage

    I worked for Admiral Blair on the U.S. Joint Staff. He is among the finest military leaders that has ever served this Country. Hopefully, he will run for President.

    May 20, 2010 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  14. JacklynD

    I don't wish misfortune on anyone. So much of what needs to be done to fight terrorism has to be created rather than using tried and true methods. The tactics change all the time. I mean really, would have ever thought that you could have a bomb in your underwear or soles of your shoe?

    Unfortunately, though things like sharing information and getting departments to work together should be insurmountable problems and are necessary.

    May 20, 2010 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  15. Jake

    Under Obama' s administration when something goes wrong somebody gets fired for screwing it up; Under Bush administration one of the worst disastrous incident in our country was rewarded with Medal of Honor and promotions.(CIA)
    Go figure.

    May 20, 2010 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  16. Sandiegobeachbum

    This is a big story. The Government's main responsibility to the citizens is to keep them as safe as possible. It does look as if there are some areas that still need major improvements as shown by the Nigerian nutjob and this Shahzad Coward. If the intelligence agencies are still not communicating with each other, heads should roll until they do. I am sick and tired of our Leaders not firing anyone. Bush should have had heads rolling on 9/12/01. You can't tolerate incompetence at the highest levels and doing what's right takes precedence over loyalty. I hope Blair will tell everyone the truth of why he really resigned and what needs to be done in his opinion in order to make all of us safer as we engage these Muslim Islamic fanatical cowards.

    May 20, 2010 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  17. ScreenAngel

    I'm sorry for any embarrassment for Admiral Blair, by all accounts a fine man and a great public servant.

    Nevertheless, I am pleased with the message of accountability his resignation sends. We just can't afford any more "heck of a job, Brownie!" culture in our government. If you're the guy in charge and things screw up, you have to take responsibility.

    Good call, President Obama.

    May 20, 2010 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  18. Mariann Pepitone

    Obama' has chosen several people for his administration that are not qualified for their jobs. Emmanuel, Napolitano, Sebelius, plus there is housespeaker Nancy Pelosi, Reid and if not for a failed campaign Specter would still be there. When Blair resigned there had to be a good reason and no doubt he is taking the blame for something.

    May 20, 2010 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  19. ilprofesore

    Should resign–pathetic how many holes are in our intelligence programs. It's gotten worse with this new administration.

    May 20, 2010 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  20. Steve Newman

    Shame, he seems like he was very qualified, but maybe not up to the job. Unlike the Bush/Cheney Administration, Obama actually expects his people to do something. The Christmas bomber proved that even after 9/11Bush/Cheney never could get their act together regarding intelligence gathering. Guess they were too busy listening in on all those phone calls!

    May 20, 2010 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  21. Dennis

    The DNI needs to be abolished anyway! It is just one more layer of bureacracy. All that needed to be done was to work on geting what was already in place working better together.

    Before, the CIA director also acted as the DCI, Director of Central Intelligence, overseeing all the country's intel assets. They just needed to adjust some "attitudes" about sharing information between all. This extra layer solved nothing.

    I will never understand why the commission recommended this or why Bush approved it!?!?!?!

    May 20, 2010 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  22. Jim

    So a decorated vetern gets "thrown under the bus" because this administration's front men (AG Holder, et al) screwed this up ? Oh yes, and becuase in 10 months he didn't fix 50+ years of inter-agency bureaucracy and "turf wars" ? Our Commander in Chief is either (A) Clueless or (B) Gutless ...

    May 20, 2010 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  23. Maureen Murphy

    They expect these people to be psychic and everywhere at once. Instead of helping the person to catch the slip, they get rid of him and now they have someone less experienced who isn't perfect either and it's just a matter of time before they slip too. What a system.

    May 20, 2010 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  24. jon

    And Napolitano said "the system worked"...... 14POINTS OF FAILURE??? she and Obama HAVE NO CLUE.

    May 20, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  25. Jason

    Miranda rights? How about you talk or we take you out back and put a bullet in your head? That is how terrorists should be treated. They need to establish value to thier life or it should be our privilage to end it.

    May 20, 2010 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
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