DNI Confirmation Hearing: Dennis Blair’s Priorities for Intelligence

Created: January 22, 2009 10:58 | Last updated: July 31, 2020 00:00

Retired Adm. Dennis Blair is up before the Senate intelligence committee for his confirmation as director of national intelligence, the head of the 16-agency intelligence community and the chief intelligence adviser to the president and his cabinet. It’s a job that hasn’t yet lived up to its promise of harmonizing a fractious community. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, (D-Calif.), chairman of the panel, has pledged support to Blair already, and at the hearing, hoped Blair would correct the intelligence-analysis mistakes on Iraq’s nonexistent WMD and end warrantless surveillance and torture, as, at least on that last part, President Barack Obama is inclined to do later this morning.

Here’s how Blair described his priorities to the panel, if confirmed:

Independent analysis and integrity. “[Obama] wants the facts, he wants all points of view.” Sure, every president says that, though… “I strongly believe in transparency, and accountability in the mission that must be kept from public view.”

The wars, sure, but not just the wars. Also North Korea, Iran, “peace and progress in South Asia” and “of course” the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. And don’t forget unconventional, stateless challenges, “…such as global warming, energy supplies, food prices and pandemic diseases.” The GOP members of the House intelligence Committee in 2007 mocked the idea of treating global warming as a national-security issues.

Full-spectrum engagement with the Muslim world. “The United States must hunt down those fanatic Muslim terrorists that seek to do us harm.” But the intelligence community needs to engage “those Muslim leaders working for a progressive and peaceful future.”

No warrantless surveillance and no torture.  “I do not and will not support any surveillance activities that circumvent” lawful action. “Torture is not moral, it’s not legal and it’s not effective. The government will have a clear and consistent standard for the treatment of detainees.”