Blair Watch Project

/ January 28, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Retired Adm. Dennis Blair's nomination to be the next director of national intelligence has leaped its first hurdle now that the Senate Intelligence Committee has unanimously approved President Obama's pick.

“Adm. Blair is exceptionally well-qualified to lead America’s intelligence community, and I believe he will be an outstanding Director of National Intelligence,” committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said in a statement today. “He has pledged to work closely with the committee, and with Congress, to build a relationship of trust and candor. I am convinced that he will ensure that we are true to our ideals as we gather the intelligence necessary to provide for our national security.”

On Jan. 22, the committee held a hearing on Blair’s nomination. At that hearing, Blair proposed legislation to partially eliminate legal barriers between military and intelligence matters. As reported:

Blair told panel members he would support the creation of so-called “Title 60” legislation, which would provide the legal basis for oversight and execution of programs that overlap between military and intelligence matters. . . .

Title 10 of the U.S. Code provides the legal guidance for all U.S. military activities. Title 50 is the governing statute that sets legal parameters for the intelligence community. But the legal mandates Title 10 and Title 50 construct have been outpaced by the unique national security needs posed by the ongoing global war on terrorism, Blair said.

The creation of Title 60 legislation would help meet those unique challenges and eliminate many of the bureaucratic hurdles the current titles pose, he added.

“I really think we need a Title ((60)). I think we need to get rid of this artificial division in this global campaign against terrorists when the tools that are available in the Department of Defense and the intelligence agency are both applicable and both need to be put together to get the job done,” Blair said.

Blair’s confirmation before the full Senate is expected soon, according to the statement.

-- John Liang