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US spy chief resigns

world Updated: May 22, 2010 01:05 IST

Dennis Blair resigned on Friday as the nation’s intelligence director after a tenure marred by the recent failures of US spy agencies to detect terrorist plots.

Blair becomes the highest-ranking member of the administration to resign.

Blair, a retired US Navy admiral, was pushed out 16 months after he became President Barack Obama’s surprise pick to be the nation’s third director of national intelligence.

His offer to step down came during a phone conversation with Obama on Thursday in which the president said he planned to put someone new in the director position.

Much like his predecessors, Blair struggled to gain traction in a position that is widely seen as lacking adequate authority to oversee an often fractious community of 16 spy services.

The timing of Blair’s departure suggests that the White House had lost confidence in him after the agencies he oversees failed to detect relatively unsophisticated terrorist plots. The Christmas Day incident involved a Nigerian man who is accused of smuggling an explosive onboard the aircraft in his underwear.

Earlier this month, a naturalised US citizen apparently trained by a Pakistani terrorist group parked a vehicle packed with explosives in the middle of Times Square.

Blair’s resignation comes just days after the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence issued a scathing report on US spy agencies’ handling of the Christmas Day attack.

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