Dennis Blair, a former Navy admiral, served as President Obama’s first Director of National Intelligence, from January 2009 to May 2010. He was then dismissed over “policy differences.” On Sunday, he appeared on ABC’s This Week and hinted he still has some differences with the administration he once served.
George Stephanopoulos asked him about the extensive leak investigations undertaken by the Justice Department, including those involving the Associated Press and Fox News. Blair made clear he has no sympathy for those involved in leaks, saying, “I know of no institution in America better able to defend itself than the press.”
But then he also pointed a finger of blame at those directing the leak investigations: “What I think is that the leaking at the top of the administration . . . is what sets the tone for those below. And I think that most of the — most of what administration spokesmen should talk about with reporters should be talked about on the record, with their names attached to it. To set an example so that those further down the line don’t think that leaking is the way it’s done, the way it should be done.”
In other words, an administration shouldn’t have it both ways — as this one tries to do when it calls in reporters to leak stories about its prowess in foreign policy and then engages in punitive and intrusive crackdowns on reporters trying to ferret the stories that don’t cast the White House in as favorable a light. Bravo to Admiral Blair for speaking truth about the way power is exercised in Washington.