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DNI Blair’s resignation statement

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Adm. Dennis Blair

Adm. Dennis Blair

Adm. Dennis Blair is officially stepping down as Director of National Intelligence. Here’s the statement he just sent out to the intelligence community:

It is with deep regret that I informed the President today that I will step down as Director of National Intelligence effective Friday, May 28th. 

I have had no greater honor or pleasure than to lead the remarkably talented and patriotic men and women of the Intelligence Community. 

Every day, you have worked tirelessly to provide intelligence support for two wars and to prevent an attack on our homeland. 

You are true heroes, just like the members of the Armed Forces, firefighters, and police whose job it is to keep our nation safe.

Your work over the past 16 months has made the Intelligence Community more integrated, agile, and representative of American values.  Keep it up – I will be cheering for you.

Dennis C. Blair

 Roundup of other reaction after the break:

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2009 intelligence budget: Almost $50 billion

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How much does the (civilian) government spend on intelligence? $49.8 billion last year, according to Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence, who released the 2009 spending figure earlier this morning.

That figure includes only the non-military intelligence budget. Blair said in a conference call earlier this year that the entire intelligence community budget is $75 billion — suggesting that the military intelligence budget, still technically classified, is about $25.2 billion.

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CIA Director Panetta on his way out?

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CIA Director Leon Panetta

CIA Director Leon Panetta

ABC News today reported that strife is growing between CIA Director Leon Panetta, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, and the White House, and said Panetta might not be at Langley for much longer. The CIA and Obama administration are officially denying any shakeup, but ABC says Panetta let loose a profanity-laced tirade at the White House last month over the Justice Department’s possible investigation into CIA torture of terrorism suspects and threatened to quit. And that’s not all:

In addition to concerns about the CIA’s reputation and its legal exposure, other White House insiders say Panetta has been frustrated by what he perceives to be less of a role than he was promised in the administration’s intelligence structure. Panetta has reportedly chafed at reporting through the director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, according to the senior adviser who said Blair is equally unhappy with Panetta.

“Leon will be leaving,” predicted a former top U.S. intelligence official, citing the conflict with Blair. The former official said Panetta is also “uncomfortable” with some of the operations being carried out by the CIA that he did not know about until he took the job.

[...] Six other current and former senior intelligence officials said they too had been briefed about Panetta’s frustrations in the job, including dealing with his former Democratic colleagues in the House of Representatives.

One of the officials said the White House had begun informal discussions with candidates who were runners-up to Panetta in the CIA director selection process last year.

One of the candidates reportedly has begun a series of preparatory briefings.

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Intel committee approves Blair

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The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence yesterday approved Adm. Dennis Blair’s nomination to be the nation’s third Director of National Intelligence. The vote was unanimous.

The full Senate plans to weigh in on Blair’s nomination soon, though a date has not yet been set for the vote. He is expected to be confirmed.

Blair will replace Michael McConnell, who resigned Jan. 27.

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Blair, Panetta officially tapped to run intelligence

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Dennis Blair

Dennis Blair

Leon Panetta

Leon Panetta

President-elect Barack Obama just formally named Dennis Blair and Leon Panetta as his picks to be the next Director of National Intelligence and Director of Central Intelligence, respectively.

The choice of Panetta has been especially controversial, since he has no experience inside the intelligence world. In his comments today, Obama said that Panetta, a former White House chief of staff and Office of Management and Budget director, was chosen for his management skills and to restore the CIA’s clout:

He has handled intelligence daily at the very highest levels, and time and again he has demonstrated sound judgment, grace under fire and complete integrity. … He will be a strong manager and a strong advocate for the CIA. He knows how to focus resources where they are needed, and he has a proven track record of building consensus and working on a bipartisan basis with Congress.

Obama also said that the current DNI, Michael McConnell, will advise him as a member of the Foeign Intelligence Advisory Board. Michael Leiter will remain as head of the National Counterterrorism Center. And John Brennan — who was expected to head the CIA until concerns over his attitudes towards torture caused him to take his name out of the running — will be Obama’s homeland security advisor and deputy national secretary adviser for counterterrorism.

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