Intelligence Czar Blair Sends Pep Talk to Spy Agencies

National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair, whose office was explicitly established to ensure that U.S. spy agencies share the kind of information that could prevent another 9/11, today sent a bleak pep-talk message to the agencies under his command, warning that Al Qaeda now is trying to develop even more fiendish methods of attack than the failed Christmas Day underpants bomb attack on a transatlantic airliner. Blair told the spy workforce that "Al Qaeda and its affiliate organizations, as well as individual suicide terrorists, have observed our defenses and are designing future attacks to circumvent them. They are doing so right now, as you are reading this message. These attacks will be even harder to uncover, interpret and stop. We must anticipate other types of attacks that are within the capability of these individuals and groups, and improve our defense to stay ahead of them."

Blair's tenure as intelligence czar could well be in jeopardy in the wake of President Obama's promise to hold officials responsible for possible lapses in how U.S. intelligence agencies handled clues about the Christmas Day plot. As NEWSWEEK has reported, Blair spent months feuding with CIA Director Leon Panetta over bureaucratic issues, including the naming of senior U.S. intelligence representatives abroad. After intervention by the vice president, Blair largely lost his battle with the CIA chief, who on paper is supposed to be the intelligence czar's subordinate.