A day after the former chairmen of the 9-11 Commission called on the White House to truly empower the titular head of the U.S. intelligence community, the Director of National Intelligence Admiral Dennis Blair has tendered his resignation.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) provided Blair's farewell letter 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.
The Wall Street Journal's Siobhan Gorman says Blair was "an uneasy fit for the job." The New York Times notes Blair's resignation is a long time coming. "His relationship with the White House was rocky since the start of the Obama administration, and he also fought a rear guard action against efforts by the Central Intelligence Agency to cut down the size and power of the national intelligence director’s staff."
Within hours of Blair's resignation, House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) called on President Obama to strengthen the ODNI.
"It now needs strong presidential leadership to help it realize its potential as envisioned by Congress and the 9-11 Commission, or it will sink into irrelevance," Thompson said in a statement. "The ODNI will only be effective if the President clarifies its authorities and defines its roles and responsibilities."
♦ Photo of Adm. Dennis Blair by Department of Defense/WikiMediaCommons