Obama Mum on Key Intelligence Posts

The President-elect named his national security team, but not top intel picks.

Dec. 1, 2008— -- President-elect Barack Obama proudly announced his national security team today, though not without a rather glaring absence of key intelligence officials.

At a press conference in Chicago, Obama named his nominees for the Departments of State, Homeland Security, Justice and Defense, as well as for national security adviser and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Despite the fact that intelligence agencies play an enormous role in the nation's security, nominees for director of national intelligence and the director of the CIA weren't part of the announcement.

ABC News was first to report retired Adm. Dennis Blair as the top contender for national intelligence, but Obama has clearly not yet finalized the choice. One reason may be the tension that choosing another military officer to head national intelligence could create with civilians at the agencies. The current director of national intelligence Mike McConnell, is a retired admiral.

The president-elect already named a retired four-star general, Jim Jones, as national security adviser.  No military officers have been mentioned as nominees for the post of CIA director.

Retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, who was still on active duty when he assumed the position of CIA director in May 2006, oversaw the controversial National Security Agency surveillance program when he headed that agency before his CIA appointment.

Earlier this year, Hayden acknowledged that the U.S. government waterboarded several "high-value" detainees. The interrogation technique, which simulates drowning, has drawn fire from critics who say it is torture.

He also set off a flurry of controversy by admitting one year ago that the agency destroyed detainee interrogation tapes in 2005.

While several names have been mentioned as possible replacements, one of the top contenders to head the agency, 25-year CIA veteran John Brennan, pulled himself out of the running after an assault by liberal Democrats who cited Brennan's senior position in the CIA during the "enhanced interrogation" program that included the waterboarding.

In a letter, Brennan railed against those critics, saying it had been "immaterial" to them that he strongly opposed "many of the policies of the Bush administration, such as the pre-emptive war in Iraq and coercive interrogation tactics, to include waterboarding."

"The fact that I was not involved in the decision-making process for any of these controversial policies and actions has been ignored," he said, adding that he did not want any distractions to take away from the CIA's "critical" role.

With Brennan's withdrawal from consideration, the list of candidates whom Obama could tap has grown, though a front-runner has not yet emerged.

Sources told ABC News that contenders have included John McLaughlin, a former CIA official with more than three decades of service at the agency, former Clinton deputy national security adviser James Steinberg, former U.S. Navy Secretary Richard Danzig, former Indiana Rep. Tim Roemer or Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., who is the current chairwoman of the House intelligence subcommittee. But Steinberg is expected to be tapped as deputy secretary of State, and Danzig as deputy secretary of Defense.

ABC News' Ariane de Vogue contributed to this report.