Dennis Cutler Blair
(born February 4, 1947), is
the third and current Director of National
and a retired United
. He was confirmed by the
United States Senate
in the Obama administration
DNI on 28 January 2009 and took office the next day.
born in Kittery,
Maine in 1947, and was a 6th generation naval officer and Great-Great-Great Grandson
of Confederate Chief Engineer William Price Williamson of North
Carolina, credited with first suggesting that the hull of the
USS Merrimack be used
to build the Confederate ironclad
attended St. Andrew's School (1964), and, as a classmate of Oliver North and James
H. Webb, graduated
from the United States Naval Academy in 1968.
Following his graduation from the Naval Academy, he was assigned to
the guided missile
. He then received a Rhodes Scholarship, majoring in Russian studies at Oxford
during the same time future president Bill
Clinton studied there (although President Clinton did not
complete the program). He served as a White House Fellow from 1975-76 with
Wesley Clark and Marshall Carter, who later became chairman
of the New York
Blair spent over 34 years in the United States Navy
. He served on guided
missile destroyers in both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets and
commanded the Kitty Hawk
His last job in the military was as Commander in Chief
, U.S. Pacific Command
highest-ranking officer over most of the U.S. forces in the
he was Director of the Joint
in the Office of the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff
, and served in
budget and policy positions on several major Navy staffs and the
staff. He was also the first Associate
Director of Central
for Military Support. He retired from the Navy in
Reports of disobeying orders
According to journalist Alan Nairn
Blair disobeyed orders from civilians in the Clinton
Administration during the 1999 East Timorese crisis
his tenure as commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Command.
growing international concern over violence against the
independence movement in Indonesian-occupied East Timor, Blair was ordered to meet with General Wiranto, the commander of the Indonesian military,
and to tell him to shut down the pro-Indonesia militia.
to Nairn, two days after the Liquiçá Church Massacre,
Blair failed to deliver this message; instead he presented Wiranto
with an offer of military assistance and a personal invitation to
be Blair's guest in Hawaii.
Consequently, Wiranto’s "forces increased the Timor killings".
During his confirmation hearing as Director of National
Intelligence, Blair responded to the accusations: "In our
conversations with leaders of Indonesia, both military and
civilian, we decried and said that the torture and killing that was
being conducted by paramilitary groups and some military groups in
East Timor had to stop"; "those who say that I was somehow carrying
out my own policy or saying things that were not in accordance with
American policy are just flat wrong."
Conflict of interest
His membership on the board of directors of EDO Corporation
, a subcontractor
for the F-22 Raptor
fighter program, and ownership of
its stock was raised as a potential conflict of interest after the
Institute for Defense
issued a study that endorsed a three-year contract for
the program. Blair told the
, "My review was not affected at all by my
association with EDO Corp., and the report was a good one." He
originally chose not to recuse himself because he claimed his link
to EDO was not of sufficient "scale" to require it, but
subsequently resigned from the EDO board to avoid any
However, on December 20, 2006 the Washington Post
that the US Department of Defense Inspector General's investigation
into the affair found Blair had violated IDA's Conflict of Interest
rules but did not influence the result of IDA's study. Blair
observed, "with all due respect to the Inspector General, I find it
hard to understand how I could be criticized for violating conflict
of interest standards when I didn't have any influence on the
Decorations and notability
His decorations include the Defense Distinguished
with three oak leaf
(4 awards), Defense Superior Service
, Legion of Merit
, Meritorious Service
, Navy Commendation
, Navy Achievement
, and the National
Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal
with one star (2
awards), as well as numerous other campaign and service awards. He
has been decorated by the governments of Japan, the Republic of
Korea, Australia, Thailand and Taiwan.
Blair is somewhat renowned in U.S. Naval circles for attempting to
behind his destroyer
the when he was the Skipper
After retiring from the Navy, Blair held the John M. Shalikashvili Chair in National
at The National Bureau of Asian
(NBR) and the General of the Army Omar N.
Bradley Chair of Strategic
Leadership at Dickinson College and the U.S. Army War College.
He was also the President
of the Institute for Defense
(IDA), a U.S.
tank in the Washington, D.C. area focused on national security.
He also served
as Deputy Executive Director of the Project on National Security
Director of National Intelligence
Dennis C. Blair became the third Director of National Intelligence
on January 29, 2009.
The East Timor
and Indonesia Action Network
opposed Blair's nomination for
Director of National Intelligence, saying "His actions demonstrate
the failure of engagement to temper the Indonesian military’s
behavior and his actions helped to reinforce impunity for senior
Indonesian officials that continues to this day."
his confirmation, Director Blair indicated he did not support a
domestic intelligence agency separate from the Federal
Bureau of Investigation.
He has also promised to end special
interrogation regimes and believes the Intelligence Community must
conduct analysis on opportunities as well as threats.
Appointment of Intelligence Community Representatives
In May 2009, Director Blair attempted to exercise his authority to
appoint an intelligence officer as his representative abroad, only
to have CIA
Director Leon Panetta
memo with a memo of his own. Former DNI Mike McConnell and the
first DNI, John Negroponte
both unable to take this community management function away from
the CIA, which has been under the CIA's jurisdiction since 1947.
According to news reports, President Bush had to issue an executive
order to give the DNI his congressionally mandated powers to force
the CIA and other intelligence agencies to respond to the DNI's
demands. A number of government executives agree that the DNI
should not have to go to the President each time the DNI wants to
implement guidance. Late July 2009, the Senate Select Committee
backed the DNI, asking the CIA to give "prompt
adherence" to the DNI's decision.
However, on November 10, 2009, the White House decided in the CIA's
favor, granting them to continue to select the chief U.S.
intelligence officer in each country where the U.S. has a
- Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Statement by the Director of National Intelligence, Mike
McConnell, 9 January 2009
- Davis, William C., Duel Between The First
- Oxford Journal; Whereas, He Is an Old Boy, If a
Young Chief, Honor Him. New York Times.
- Alan Nairn.
"US Complicity in Timor". The Nation, September 27,
- Alan Nairn. "Breaking News: US Intel Nominee Lied About '99
Massacre. US, Church Documents Show Adm. Dennis Blair Knew of
Church Killings Before Crucial Meeting. " News and Comment.
January 22, 2009
- Sen. Dianne Feinstein Holds A Hearing On The
Nomination Of Dennis Blair To Be Director Of National
Intelligence. January 22, 2009. Excerpts
from Transcript of Confirmation Hearing.
- ODNI, Biography, 30 January 2009
- Washington Post, Intelligence Pick Fields Panel's Questions, 28
- New York Times, Statement of Dennis C. Blair before The Senate
Select Committee on Intelligence, United States Senate, 22 January
2009 (see video, 00:30-01:08)
- Washington Post, DNI Nominee Blair Talks of Opportunities for
Statecraft, 26 January 2009
- ODNI, DNI Workforce Message, 30 January 2009
- ODNI, Media Roundtable with Mr. Dennis Blair, pg. 5, 21, 26
- David Ignatius, Intelligence Turf Has to be Ended, 14 June
- CIA wins turf battle over DNI: But is it over?
- HSToday, DNI, CIA Turf War Highlights Recurring Issue of
DNI's Authority, 28 May 2009
- CIA wins turf battle over DNI: But is it over?
- "We Can Fix Acquisition" By Admiral Dennis C. Blair,
U.S. Navy, Proceedings, May 2002
- "A Multicultural Military" By Dennis C. Blair
and Joe R. Reeder, The Washington Post, March 22,
- "Leader of Panel That Endorsed Jet Program Has Ties
to Contractor" By R. Jeffrey Smith and Renae Merle, The
Washington Post, July 25, 2006
- "Ret. Admiral to Resign From Board" By R. Jeffrey
Smith, The Washington Post, July 27, 2006
- Interview with Dennis Blair on the PBS NewsHour
from December 19, 2001.
- "Defense Institute Head Resigns" By R. Jeffrey
Smith, The Washington Post, September 13, 2006
- "The New Team Dennis C. Blair" By Mark Mazzetti, The New York
Times, November 22, 2008
- "Military Power Projection in Asia" By Dennis
C. Blair, Strategic Asia 2008-09: Challenges and Choices,
The National Bureau of
Asian Research 2008
- "Report: Intel Nominee Adm. Dennis Blair Knew of ’99 East Timor Church Killings
Before Crucial Meeting", January 22, 2009; "Obama Aide Admiral Dennis Blair Lie to
Congress? ", January 9, 2009; "Obama Nominee Admiral Dennis Blair Aided
Perpetrators of 1999 Church Killings in East Timor (Part II)",
January 7, 2009; "New Trouble for an Obama Nominee: Admiral Dennis
Blair Aided Perpetrators of 1999 Church Killings in East
Timor", January 6, 2009; on Democracy
Now! (video, audio, and print transcript).