Senate Confirms Blair as National Intel Chief

Wednesday, 28 Jan 2009 09:13 PM

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate late Wednesday confirmed President Barack Obama's choice to be US director of national intelligence, retired admiral Dennis Blair.

The Senate approved Blair by voice vote.

Blair last week flatly rejected torture -- which he branded "not moral... not legal... not effective" -- and promised to end special interrogation regimes and refuse the unlawful surveillance of Americans.

Blair indicated major changes are in store for US intelligence agencies, which have been embroiled in controversy over secret prisons, interrogation practices, and warrantless wiretapping of Americans.

Blair told the Senate Intelligence Committee he would welcome independent monitoring of the intelligence community "to prevent abuses and protect privacy and civil liberties of Americans."

However, he refused to say waterboarding, a form of controlled drowning, is torture, because he did not want to put in legal jeopardy intelligence officers who engaged in practices authorized at the highest levels.

"I don't intend to reopen those cases of those officers," he said.

Copyright © 2009 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.

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