By Sam Youngman - 05/21/10 06:29 PM EDT
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs hinted that recent attempted
terrorist attacks led to the resignation of Director of National
Intelligence Dennis Blair.
Gibbs on Friday pointed to "coordination issues" that allowed the attempted Christmas Day bombing of an airliner approaching Detroit when asked about the resignation of the top intelligence officer.
Blair announced his resignation to DNI employees Thursday evening, and a number of reports have suggested that President Barack Obama lost confidence in Blair after the Christmas incident, the Fort Hood shooting spree and the attempted bombing in New York's Times Square.
When asked directly if Obama lost confidence in Blair, Gibbs said: "The president decided to make a change. I'll let that speak for itself."
Republican lawmakers say that Blair was pushed out and used by Obama as a "scapegoat" in the wake of intelligence failures that have almost resulted in catastrophic attacks.
Gibbs repeatedly emphasized that Obama "took direct responsibility" for breakdowns that allowed a would-be airplane bomber on board a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas.
But Gibbs also said the president has already interviewed several candidates for Blair's replacement, indicating Obama has been planning to make a change for some time.
Gibbs would not say when Obama began to consider ousting Blair, and he declined to comment on whom the president might select for the position, which is responsible for coordinating intelligence sharing among the nation's 16 intelligence agencies.