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Obama names retired general new intelligence head

world Updated: Jun 05, 2010 21:11 IST

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President Barack Obama named retired general James Clapper as his new director of national intelligence on Saturday, selecting a defense veteran to coordinate action between numerous US intelligence agencies.

Obama, who announced the appointment in the White House Rose Garden, urged the US Senate to confirm Clapper swiftly.

Clapper, undersecretary of defense for intelligence and a retired general, would replace Dennis Blair, who stepped down from the job last month in the first major shake-up of Obama's national security team.

"With four decades of service to America, Jim is one of our nation's most experienced and most respected intelligence professionals," Obama said.

"He possesses a quality that I value in all my advisers: a willingness to tell leaders what we need to know even if it's not what we want to hear."

The post Clapper is taking over was created by President George W Bush in 2004 in a reorganization of the intelligence bureaucracy to fill shortcomings in interagency collaboration exposed by the Sept 11, 2001, attacks.

Blair was ousted amid mounting domestic security concerns following a failed car bomb attempt in New York's Times Square on May 1 and the botched attempt to blow up a US airliner on Christmas Day.