Sources: Obama to Appoint Navy Adm. Blair as New National Intelligence Head

By Lee Speigel

Dec 18, 2008 7:20pm

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl reports: Democratic sources tell ABC News that Barack Obama will appoint retired Navy Adm. Dennis Blair to be the nation’s top intelligence official, replacing Michael McConnell as the director of National Intelligence.

Before he retired from the Navy as a four-star Admiral in 2002, Blair served as the top U.S. military official in the Pacific.  He’s also served as the director of the Joint Staff in the Pentagon and in various capacities at the National Security Council and the CIA. 

The sources say Obama is also seriously considering keeping Mike Hayden as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, but caution no final decision has been made.  Keeping Hayden as CIA director would be a controversial move because of the CIA’s policies on the interrogation of terrorist suspects, although Hayden was not at the CIA when the most controversial tactic — waterboarding — was used on three CIA detainees. 

Two weeks ago, Obama had a lengthy briefing from Hayden on the CIA’s covert programs.  According to a Democratic source, the two-hour briefing went well.  Although Hayden’s future was not discussed, the source said Obama "felt comfortable" with Hayden.

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