January - June

Materials presented chronologically.

Office of the Director of National Intelligence. ["Message."] 7 Jan. 2010. Available at:

[Clark comment: Interestingly, Blair takes cognizance of the suggestions being made that the failures in this case are related to the extra layer of bureaucracy represented by the ODNI.] The following message by DNI Dennis C. Blair was sent to employees of the U.S. Intelligence Community: "While the December 25 [2009 terrorist] attempt exposed improvement needs and flaws in coordination, it did not expose weakness in the concepts of intelligence reform or suggest that its progress should be redirected. The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) and the progress of the past five years will continue to guide our future improvements."

Warrick, Joby. "Ex-CIA Official to Lead Inquiry into Plane Incident." Washington Post, 9 Jan. 2010. []

DNI Dennis C. Blair has appointed John E. McLaughlin, former deputy CIA director, to "lead a review of missteps by U.S. intelligence agencies and assess proposals for correcting weaknesses in a system that did not respond to warnings about terrorism suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab." See ODNI, Public Affairs Office, "DNI Asks John E. McLaughlin to Head Group that Will Examine Recent Intelligence Challenges," ODNI News Release No. 04-10 (Washington, DC: 8 Jan. 2010).

Bolton, John. "Let's Take Bureaucracy Out of Intelligence: Groupthink Products Like National Intelligence Estimates Make Us Vulnerable." Wall Street Journal, 10 Jan. 2010. []

Bolton argues that achieving "more effective communication and analysis within the IC ... does not require more centralization of authority, more hierarchy, and more uniformity of opinion. The IC's problem stems from a culture of anonymous conformity. Greater centralization will only reinforce existing bureaucratic obstacles." Better assessing the implications of the intelligence we collect requires "creating a culture that rewards insight and decisiveness. To create that culture we should abolish the DNI office and NIEs. Eliminating the DNI should be accompanied by reversing decades of inadequate National Security Council supervision of the intelligence function."

Nakashima, Ellen. "Intelligence Chief Acknowledges U.S. May Target Americans Involved in Terrorism." Washington Post, 4 Feb. 2010. []

DNI Dennis C. Blair told HPSCI members on 3 February 2010 that "government agencies may kill U.S. citizens abroad who are involved in terrorist activities if they are taking action that threatens Americans." Blair added that "the factors that 'primarily' weigh on the decision to target an American include 'whether that American is involved in a group that is trying to attack us, whether that American is a threat to other Americans.'"

Mazzetti, Mark. "Facing a Rift, U.S. Spy Chief to Step Down." New York Times, 20 May 2010. []

Adm. Dennis C. Blair, "whose often tumultuous tenure as DNI was marked by frequent clashes with White House officials and other spy chiefs in America's still fractured intelligence apparatus, announced [on 20 May 2010] that he was resigning." Blair's departure "had been rumored for months, but was made official when President Obama called him [on 20 May 2010] and asked him to step down." Greg Miller, "Dennis C. Blair to Resign as Director of National Intelligence," Washington Post, 21 May 2010, A1, adds that Blair's "departure is likely to renew debate over whether the DNI position ... is fundamentally flawed."

Baker, Peter, and Eric Schmitt. "Obama to Name Retired General to Top Spy Post." New York Times, 4 Jun. 2010. []

President Obama has picked Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper Jr. as DNI, and will announce this in the Rose Garden on 5 June 2010. As director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Clapper "clashed with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and was pushed out of office as a result, only to return to the Pentagon as a top lieutenant to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates." See also, Anne E. Kornblut and Greg Miller, "Senators Question Obama's Choice of Clapper as National Intelligence Director," Washington Post, 5 Jun. 2010, A3; and Anne E. Kornblut and Joby Warrick, "James R. Clapper Jr. Nominated as National Intelligence Chief," Washington Post, 6 Jun. 2010.

Clark comment: It is a mystery to me why anyone would want what is truly an impossible job. The DNI's responsibility for "coordinating" organizations over which the position exercises no line authority or programmatic control (except possibly for the CIA and the units -- essentially redundant bureaucracy -- established by the initial DNI) creates an untenable situation. The DNI is little more than a DCI removed from a well-established base -- thus the perceived need to create a whole new bureaucracy. The DNI's ability to order anything done in the greater part of the organizations for which he/she will be held responsible by Congress and probably the President is extremely limited. It is interesting that Clapper lost his job as Director/NGA for being correct in supporting (or, at least, not opposing) the concept of a DNI with genuine authority over multiple Intelligence Community elements, specifically in his case one controlled by the Defense Department.

Kornblut, Anne E. "Counterterror Adviser John Brennan: A Forceful Voice on Obama's Security Team." Washington Post, 6 Jun. 2010, A4. []

"[A]fter being forced to withdraw from consideration for CIA director in 2008," John O. Brennan "has transformed his role into that of the president's closest intelligence adviser." The President's nominee as DNI, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper Jr., will need to "develop a strong relationship" with Brennan.

Best, Richard A., Jr. Intelligence Reform After Five Years: The Role of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, 22 Jun. 2010. Available at:

"Observers are divided over the success of the DNI position and the ODNI.... A number of innovations have been undertaken in the intelligence community to encourage coordination and information sharing.... A widespread perception is that coordinative mechanisms and authorities as currently established are inadequate to the goal of creating a more flexible and agile intelligence effort.... Congress has monitored the work of DNIs and the ODNI, but oversight has thus far been largely informal, given the absence of enacted intelligence authorization legislation since 2004, shortly after passage of the Intelligence Reform Act."

CNN. "Acting National Intelligence Chief Resigning at End of August." 25 Jun. 2010. []

A U.S. intelligence official has told CNN that Acting DNI David Gompert "has informed Congress he is resigning effective the end of August regardless of whether the new nominee for the post is confirmed.... The nomination of James Clapper has been delayed because of infighting over an intelligence bill." See also, Siobhan Gorman, "Acting Spy Chief Plans Departure," Wall Street Journal, 25 Jun. 2010.

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