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Dennis C. Blair, Director of National Intelligence

Author: Joanna Klonsky, Associate Editor
Updated: February 9, 2009
This publication is now archived.

Dennis BlairRetired four-star Admiral Dennis C. Blair is President Obama's director of national intelligence (DNI)--confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 28, 2009. Blair, a thirty-four-year Navy veteran, is the former commander-in-chief of U.S. Pacific Command. He also served as associate director of central intelligence for military support, coordinating intelligence and military operations under the Clinton administration. He was director of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, and commanded the Kitty Hawk Strike Group aircraft carrier and the destroyer Cochrane.

From 2003 to 2007, Blair was president of the Institute for Defense Analyses, a nonprofit corporation that manages federally funded national security research and development centers. He stepped down in the face of concerns that his positions on the boards of major defense contractors presented a conflict of interest.

A former Rhodes Scholar, Blair speaks Russian and is an expert on U.S. policy toward Asia. He co-chaired the Council on Foreign Relations independent task force that published a 2007 report recommending that the U.S. government work to integrate China into the global community.

In November 2007 testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Blair decried what he called the "clumsy model" of U.S. energy security and its impact on military operations. "American forces have been engaged in the Middle East since the tanker wars of 1987, and events have seemed to demand increasing our military force, not reducing it. But driving this engagement is America's ever growing dependence on overseas petroleum," he said. "This dependence has influenced successive administrations to strengthen military engagement rather than to search for other means--perhaps politically more difficult but in the long run more cost-effective means--for boosting energy security."

Blair has not been implicated in controversial intelligence initiatives under the Bush administration, such as coercive interrogation of terror suspects under the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program.

As DNI, Blair would oversee the U.S. intelligence community and deliver Obama's daily intelligence briefings.

Essential Readings:

USAPC Washington Report interview (PDF) with Dennis Blair. March 2007.

U.S.-China Relations: An Affirmative Agenda, A Responsible Course. Council on Foreign Relations Task Force Report. Dennis Blair and Carla Hills, co-chairs. April 2007.

Indonesia Commission: Peace and Progress in Papua. Council on Foreign Relations Center for Preventive Action. Dennis Blair, chairman.

PBS NewsHour interview with Dennis Blair. December 19, 2001.

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