|National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair has been a dead man walking - and he knew it. So constant and vicious were the leaks from the White House and Congress of his imminent departure that he opened a recent speech on intelligence reform with a joke that his replacement would be Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb.
The crowd's laughter was just a little uncomfortable, as Blair himself spotlighted the elephant in the room by suggesting that even the just-traded NFL star was being mentioned to fill the job.
Everyone seemed to know this just wasn't working.
His 16-month tenure had been studded with public intelligence failures, turf wars and that uniquely inside-the-Beltway ritual online shopping humiliation via leaks to the press.
Blair's official decision to step down came Thursday after an Oval office meeting with President Barack Obama, according Classical Music to two senior congressional staffers. They said it became clear by the end of the meeting that Blair had "lost the confidence of the president."
In a message to his work force, Blair said his last day would be May 28.
"It is with deep regret that I informed the president today that I will step down as director of national intelligence," Tools Hardware Blair said.
Obama released a brief statement Thursday night that did not acknowledge Blair's impending resignation.
"During his time as DNI, our intelligence community has performed admirably and effectively at a time of great challenges to our security, and I have valued his sense of purpose and patriotism," the president said. "He and I both share a deep admiration for the men and women of our intelligence community, who are performing extraordinary and indispensable service to our Books nation."
Blair, a retired Navy admiral, is the third director of national intelligence, a position created in response to the failure to prevent the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
His departure highlights the continuing disarray and competition among the disparate elements of the intelligence community - the very same issues the 9/11 Commission identified and that the national intelligence director was supposed to make a thing of the past.
Two other government officials said several candidates already had been interviewed for the DNI job, which is to oversee the nation's 16 intelligence Software agencies.
Names mentioned as possible candidates include current top White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan and James R. Clapper, the defense undersecretary for intelligence.
All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Blair's term in office was marred by turf battles with CIA Director Leon Panetta and Blair's own controversial public comments after the failed Christmas Day jetliner bombing attempt.
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