Intel Chief Dennis Blair’s Embarrassing Walk-Back
Hours after Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence, told a Senate panel that he thought the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG) should have interrogated would-be Northwest 253 bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — which suggested that the FBI didn’t get valuable intelligence out of the suspect — the intelligence chief is eating his words.
“My remarks today before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs have been misconstrued,” Blair said in a statement just emailed to reporters. “The FBI interrogated Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab when they took him into custody. They received important intelligence at that time, drawing on the FBI’s expertise in interrogation that will be available in the HIG once it is fully operational.”
Yes, that means Blair attributed responsibilities for interrogation in the Abdulmutallab case to an entity that doesn’t actually exist yet. And he’s the top intelligence official in the United States. I don’t know who “misconstrued” his remarks, either, but that’s the way to save face, I suppose.
Interestingly, Blair didn’t address his reluctance to affirm the Obama administration’s decision to prosecute Abdulmutallab in civilian court.