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?

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bmaz @Tedards @anthony_farda @ColMorrisDavis Who gives a damn? Are you denying his record from that time?? You can cut me out of this at this pt.
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bmaz @IWPCHI @mock_kevin Listen, do your own research from here on out, I'm done. Believe whatever you want. From article https://t.co/3Zwgdgx0KV
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bmaz @JimWhiteGNV @shannynmoore It is perfect. Wish I had been smart enough to think of that.
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JimWhiteGNV @bmaz @shannynmoore Yes. I'm still laughing.
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bmaz RT @shannynmoore: Does anyone know if #Carly Fiorina is selling off the parts of her aborted campaign? #AskingForAFriend #GOP2016
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bmaz @shannynmoore @JimWhiteGNV Ooooh! Best tweet of the day.
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bmaz @IWPCHI @mock_kevin Are you kidding? Her team, surrogates+trolls have been attacking Sanders on civil rts for weeks https://t.co/PqC2bNFHKn
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bmaz @sbagen Agree. But, dang, Ferguson wasn't real bright how they handled this.
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bmaz @IWPCHI @mock_kevin Well, I think she took the low road when she mocked Sanders civil rights beliefs and history. No sympathy.
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JimWhiteGNV So I understand the FBI is trying to finish off the dildo roundup. Hope all goes well and peacefully.
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bmaz @IWPCHI @mock_kevin If she is going to dishonestly play that card, she deserves to have her record during that time described. Its all fair
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