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

Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel And the flight attendant encouraging everyone to take whatever seat they want? It's like chaos paradise on this flight.
7mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @taylormattd The article's error is IMO about as serious as your own.
10mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @taylormattd It didn't include a screen cap? Oh wait. It did.
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emptywheel @taylormattd You agree she was SoS "in 2013"?
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emptywheel @tpabob46 Pretty much what she did; "uniformed military, platinum, gold, 1, 2, 3, 4 are free to board."
18mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @taylormattd Yup. And your tweets, which claimed she wasn't SoS in 2013, was just as inaccurate.
21mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Gate agent rebelling against zone boarding for 50-seat airplane is my hero if the day.
23mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel RT @DKThomp: Hillary would b the least popular Democratic nom in modern history *and* have the best approval gap over an opponent https://t…
32mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @taylormattd Sentence you did not screen cap is clearly wrong. But month (which comes from Fox) is key to that.
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JimWhiteGNV I've informed my family they have a choice of what to get me for Father's Day. (1) Chris Archer Stormtrooper bobblehead. or (2) A Boxster
35mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @dispositive Welcome back! easy solution: shop at the Farmers and Coop.
42mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @taylormattd Nat (the correct spelling is "Marcy"): read your tweets. And then either retract or clarify them.
42mreplyretweetfavorite
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