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Name: Blair, Dennis
Current Position: Former Director
Former Navy admiral Dennis Blair is no stranger to controversy, thanks to a career that has included water skiing behind a combat vessel, ignoring orders from civilian officials by offering  the Indonesian dictatorship military assistance without authorization to do so during the East Timor crisis, and ignoring his conflict of interest over a billion-dollar warplane program.
Born in Kittery, Maine, on February 4, 1947, Blair was raised in a family that had for five generations served in the US Navy. He attended St. Andrew’s School, and later attended the US Naval Academy, along with Oliver North and James H. Webb (now a US senator). Following his graduation in 1968, he served aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Tattnall.
Blair then received a Rhodes Scholarship that allowed him to attend Oxford University (at the same time Bill Clinton was there), where he received a master’s degree in history and Russian language. He served as a White House Fellow from 1975 to 1976 with Wesley Clark (future Army general) and Marshall Carter (future chairman of the New York Stock Exchange).
During his 34-year naval career, Blair commanded the guided missile destroyer USS Cochrane (which he once tried to water ski behind) and the Kitty Hawk Battle Group. In 1995, Presudent Clinton appointed Blair the Central Intelligence Agency’s first associate director of military support, an assignment that lasted one year. He later served in budget and policy positions on several major Navy staffs, on the National Security Council staff, and as vice admiral and Director of the Joint Staff in the Office of the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Blair’s final job in the military was a three-year stint as commander-in-chief of United States Pacific Command, the highest ranking officer over all US forces in the Asia-Pacific region. While serving in this command, Blair reportedly disobeyed orders from the Clinton administration during the 1999 East Timorese crisis. Amid growing violence against the independence movement in Indonesian-occupied East Timor, Blair was ordered to meet with General Wiranto, commander of the Indonesian military, to tell him to shut down the pro-Indonesia militia. The admiral failed to deliver this message during his meeting with Wiranto, and instead gave the Indonesian general an offer of military assistance and a personal invitation to be Blair’s guest in Hawaii. Months later, after killings of independence supporters had grown, Blair was sent back to Indonesia and, following civilian orders, cut off all American ties to the Indonesian military.
Blair was later passed over for chairman of the Joint Chiefs by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who considered him too independent and was wary of his views on engagement in Asia. Blair retired from the Navy in 2002 as a four-star admiral.
As soon as he entered civilian life, Blair became a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), a nonprofit largely financed by the federal government to analyze national security issues for the Pentagon. He rose to president and CEO on November 3, 2003,, resigning in 2006 under pressure stemming from his membership on the board of directors of EDO Corporation, a subcontractor for the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter program, and ownership of its stock. A potential conflict of interest was raised after the IDA issued a study that endorsed a three-year contract for the F-22 program. Blair originally chose not to recuse himself from the study because he claimed his seat on the board of directors was not a link of sufficient “scale” to require it. But effective September 11, 2006, he resigned from the EDO board to avoid any “misperceptions.” On November 30, 2006, the Pentagon’s inspector general reported that Blair had violated IDA’s conflict of interest rules but did not influence the result of IDA’s study.
In addition to EDO, Blair has served since March 2003 as a director of Tyco International Ltd., which was also involved in the F-22 program, supplying small electronic components. Blair also joined the board of directors of Iridium Satellite, LLC on July 26, 2007. Iridium operates communications satellites and satellite phone networks.. Blair also sits on the board of the Center for New American Security, a new centrist think tank specializing in national security issues. He was the John M. Shalikashvili Chair in National Security Studies at The National Bureau of Asian Research, and The Omar N. Bradley Chair in Strategic Leadership at Dickinson College and the US Army War College for 2007-2008.
Blair Is Steeped in the Ways Intelligence Works (by Dana Priest, Washington Post)
The New Team: Dennis C. Blair (by Mark Mazzetti, New York Times)
Report Faults Ex-Chief of Defense Institute (by R. Jeffrey Smith, Washington Post)
Leader of Panel That Endorsed Jet Program Has Ties to Contractor (by R. Jeffrey Smith and Renae Merle, Washington Post)
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