The Inexplicable Timing of Dennis Blair’s Ouster

I’m thoroughly unsurprised by the news of Dennis Blair’s ouster. After all, it’s an impossible job that appears to serve one purpose: to provide a deck chair you can rearrange every two years as a scapegoat for our continuing inability to detect terrorists even with all the surveillance toys we’ve got.

(Actually, if you’re Michael McConnell, it serves a second, more personal, purpose: giving you means to privatize intelligence for the benefit of your once and future employers.)

But I’ve got a few questions after I read the following on Twitter:

Chuck Todd: MT @SavannahGuthrie POTUS asked for Blair’s resignation; Blair appealed to Chief of Staff to make a rebuttal — an offer that went nowhere.

Major Garrett: + Feinstein: “I look forward to working with the President as he identifies his nominee.” Feinstein Cmte rpt final straw for Blair

That is, if you believe the tweets of the White House Press Corps, Blair was ousted by Obama (thoroughly unsurprising news) in response to the SSCI report on the Undie Bomber.

Now, that someone would be canned in response to the SSCI report is also thoroughly unsurprising. It’s a damning report, showing we’ve made little progress since 9/11. Now, several people–like Marc Ambinder and Jeff Stein–seem to think National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter should be the one canned over this report (and that’s even before you consider that Leiter went on vacation right after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s attempted attack). Whoever gets canned, though, I’m actually a bit pleased that someone will be held responsible for some pretty big failures.

So I understand all that.

It’s the timing I don’t understand. As Ambinder reported earlier this week, this report is not new. It’s just new to us. The White House has had this report for two months.

The SSCI gave its report to the White House and the intelligence agencies two months ago, and an official told me last night that the the IC had made progress implementing many of its regulations. The new budget contains more authority for the DNI to make technical decisions more quickly, which should help with the database issues. A DNI official said that Blair “accepted” blame and is making necessary changes.

If the White House were going to fire Blair in response to the report, why didn’t he get fired two months ago? Why let him start fixing thing (you know, shifting his deck chair), and then fire him?

Or did Rahm and Obama hold off on firing him until this report was declassified so he could serve as a very public scapegoat shortly after its release?

Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Reddit0Share on Facebook0Google+0Email to someone

48 Responses to The Inexplicable Timing of Dennis Blair’s Ouster

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
  • 23
  • 24
  • 25
  • 26
  • 27
  • 28
  • 29
  • 30
  • 31
  • 32
  • 33
  • 34
  • 35
  • 36
  • 37
  • 38
  • 39
  • 40
  • 41
  • 42
  • 43
  • 44
  • 45
  • 46
  • 47
  • 48
Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @jayrosen_nyu @brianstelter This is stupefying.
25mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @AllThingsHLS I watched the first episode. It was horrible. Won't waste another second on it.
28mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz WTF? Patriots/Lions is on the early NFL schedule and my @CBS5AZ station gives me Bengals at Texans. This is ridiculous. They hate viewers.
46mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @DanCBarr: Some solid reporting that is well worth reading. @anneryman: ASU sexual-assault cases: Few convictions http://t.co/5q7h5ZWGBL
1hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @espinsegall: Sorry, yes it was an inspiring impassioned plea to see how much racism remains in our country. RT@AnthonyMKreis @bmaz @nan
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz Congratulations to 2014 F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton http://t.co/nVKd0yL92F
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @espinsegall @AnthonyMKreis @nancyleong Ah, very well then. I was reading it exactly the opposite. Sorry about that!
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @espinsegall @nancyleong This the same guy? I can't tell from your initial quote the context. Can you elaborate?
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @JimWhiteGNV: Disgusting. As Iran, P5+1 near deal extending "breakout" time for Iran, Sanger fearmongers over "sneakout" to try to scutt…
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @espinsegall @nancyleong Was that comment as disgusting as it sounds?
2hreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV Disgusting. As Iran, P5+1 near deal extending "breakout" time for Iran, Sanger fearmongers over "sneakout" to try to scuttle it.
2hreplyretweetfavorite
May 2010
S M T W T F S
« Apr   Jun »
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031