The White House vs. Dennis Blair
Apropos of my piece on Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair’s awkward testimony yesterday, Michael Isikoff fleshes out the dissatisfaction felt toward Blair at the White House:
“People are annoyed, angry, and frustrated about this,” said the senior official, who asked not to be identified, speaking about Blair’s testimony. The official added that the White House has ordered Blair to “correct” his remarks. “He’s taking a mulligan on this,” the official said.
And that was before Blair’s embarrassing statement walking back his Senate testimony about how a non-operational interrogation unit should have been called in for the Northwest Airlines would-be bomber. The intelligence chief’s aides attempt to spin Isikoff with this:
An official in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said that Blair “fully understand” that work on the HIG “has not been completed” when he gave his initial testimony. The official said officials are now working on the charter for the HIG–a document that will call for teams of intel experts and interrogators known as Mobile Interrogation Teams (or MITs) that will be dispatched when a top suspect is apprehended. When he responded to Collins, Blair was “talking about what should be included in the charter.”
That’s raising an afterthought in Blair’s answer (“Frankly, we were thinking more of overseas people. And, you know, we didn’t put it then—that’s what we will do now”) to a position of centrality. But this town has seen lamer spin than that.