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White House Withheld From Intel Chief a Blueprint for Strengthening His Office

Here’s something that Dennis Blair probably doesn’t want to read now that he’s vacated his job as director of national intelligence. The Atlantic’s Max Fisher reports that a (typically powerless) White House intelligence advisory group issued a report around March outlining a plan to bolster the authority and influence of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Right now that office leads the 16 agencies of the intelligence community mostly through the goodwill and consent of the agency chiefs — which can be revoked. But while the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board charted a course to fix it, the White House apparently didn’t share the bulk of the report with Blair or his office.

It’s not clear why that communication didn’t occur. As Fisher writes, President Obama has stated that he believes the Director of National Intelligence — his principal intelligence adviser — needs to head the community. But in practice, he hasn’t taken any measures to strengthen the office’s statutory authorities, leading me to think that the White House doesn’t see any political upside in a major intelligence overhaul barely five years after the last one. The major advocate for such an overhaul is Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. And she probably wants to see the PIAB report in full.

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