Saturday, December 20, 2008

Obama Chooses Retired Admiral as Intelligence Chief

Dec. 19, 2008 – 12:58 p.m.

President-elect Barack Obama will nominate retired Adm. Dennis Blair, former commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, as national intelligence director, congressional sources said Friday.

“I am pleased President-elect Obama selected someone with such extensive hands-on knowledge of national security issues in the Asia-Pacific region,” Sen. Daniel K. Akaka , D-Hawaii, said. “He served our country well as commander in chief of the Pacific and I trust he will serve with the same level of duty and honor if confirmed as director of national intelligence.”

If confirmed by the Senate, Blair would be the third director of national intelligence overseeing all U.S. intelligence agencies and delivering the president’s daily briefing on critical global intelligence. He would succeed Michael McConnell , another retired Navy admiral.

Blair has a range of experience at senior levels of the U.S. government. He served 34 years in the Navy, retiring in 2002 as a four-star admiral after serving four years as Pacific commander. He commanded several warships and worked in numerous budget and policy positions — on the Joint Staff, the National Security Council and the Navy. He also was the CIA’s first associate director for military support.

Upon retiring from the Navy, he worked with several think tanks and universities. From 2003 to 2006, he was president of the Institute for Defense Analyses, a Pentagon-funded research organization. He left there after the Pentagon inspector general concluded in 2006 that he should have recused himself from involvement in two institute reports about the F-22 fighter, because he served on the boards of two companies that worked on the program. The report found, though, that Blair had not influenced the institute’s analysis of the F-22 or used his position for personal gain.

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