Thursday, January 22, 2009
OBAMA DISMANTLING OUR SHIELDS? Blair vows transparent counter-terrorism WASHINGTON, N.Y., Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Retired Navy Adm. Dennis Blair, U.S. President Barack Obama's choice to head national intelligence, promised a Senate panel new tactics for counter-terrorism. "The intelligence agencies of the United States must respect the privacy and civil liberties of the American people, and they must adhere to the rule of law," Blair said Thursday in testimony before the in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. As national intelligence director, Blair promised senators he would approach overseeing 16 intelligence-gathering agencies differently than his predecessors. "I do not and will not support any surveillance activities that circumvent established processes for their lawful authorization," he said. "I believe in the importance of independent monitoring, including by Congress, to prevent abuses and protect civil liberties." Blair said there still remained a need for transparency and accountability in a mission "where most work necessarily remains hidden from public view." If confirmed, Blair said he would "communicate frequently and candidly with the oversight committees, and as much as possible with the American people."