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Sunday, May 23, 2010

President Obama Fires Dennis Blair - Director of National Intelligence

Tensions among the White House, the intelligence director and Congressional oversight committees escalated after a young Nigerian man nearly detonated a bomb on a trans-Atlantic flight on Dec. 25. White House officials openly criticized Mr. Blair and his staff for a litany of missed signals that could have prevented the man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, from boarding the plane.  They laid particular blame on the National Counterterrorism Center, one agency that Mr. Blair supervises. A report released this week by the Senate Intelligence Committee was particularly critical of the NCTC’s failures to piece together the information that could have put Mr. Abdulmutallab on a “no-fly” list.  Wide U.S. Failures Helped Airliner Plot, Panel Says - The blunders took place at every major intelligence agency and included computer glitches, misspellings and poor analysis, the committee said. Summary of the Committee Report on the Attempted Terrorist Attack - Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab - http://intelligence.senate.gov/100518/1225report.pdf

American officials said that Mr. Blair had also angered the White House in recent months by pushing for closer intelligence ties to France, an arrangement opposed by Mr. Obama.  But Mr. Blair also fought battles inside the intelligence ranks. Last summer, he clashed with Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director, over the appointment of the senior American spies overseas. Mr. Panetta went so far as to issue a memorandum to C.I.A. operatives telling them to disregard a directive that Mr. Blair had sent a day earlier.

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