On Deck

/ February 12, 2009 at 5:00 AM

(UPDATE: Blair's prepared testimony is now available -- see link below.)

Today, Congress will receive its first glimpse into the Obama administration's views on the slate of national security threats facing the United States, and how the White House plans on addressing those threats in the near and long-term.

Newly minted Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair is set to testify before members of the Senate Select Intelligence committee, less than a month after the Senate confirmed his nomination to become the top U.S. intelligence official in January.

The former U.S. Pacific Command chief replaces former DNI Mike McConnell and is the first brand-new member of President Obama's national security appointees to assume his position under the new administration. Bush appointee Defense Secretary Robert Gates was asked to remain at the Pentagon by the White House.

While details are scant regarding the current threat assessment Blair plans to present to lawmakers today, issues regarding the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea, the continuing spread of influence across the globe by violent extremist organizations like al Qaeda and the continuing hunt for Osama Bin Laden are likely to top the list.

However, Blair's testimony does coincide with a number of significant changes to intelligence and national security policy taken on by the new administration in recent weeks.

This week, Obama launched a new soup-to-nuts review on U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which is expected to dramatically increase the number of American troops in that country.

Last month, the White House issued a slew of executive orders which set a timetable for the closure of the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and set new standards for interrogation tactics used against suspected terrorists.

For some background, click here to view the testimony from Blair's confirmation hearing.

Click here for Blair's prepared testimony on the intel community's latest worldwide threat assessment.

-- Carlo Munoz