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Intelligence director nominee stresses civil liberties in testimony

[JURIST] Admiral Dennis Blair, nominated [press release, JURIST report] by US President Barack Obama [official profile] for Director of National Intelligence, on Thursday stressed his respect for civil liberties and lawfulness in intelligence investigations during testimony [text, PDF] before the Senate Intelligence Committee [official website] in anticipation of his expected appointment. Blair addressed the treatment of detainees by stating his opposition to the use of torture and agreement with Obama's order to close [JURIST report] the Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detention facility. Blair said that he planned to:

carry out the mission of the Intelligence Community in a manner consistent with our Nation’s values, consistent with our Constitution and consistent with the rule of law. 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.
In a pre-hearing questionnaire, Blair responded to 54 questions [text, PDF] from the committee that covered his understanding of the position and his standing on several issues. In one response, he wrote, "I see it as my responsibility to make it clear that protecting the privacy and civil liberties of Americans is as important as gathering intelligence."

Blair has served as Commander of US forces in the Pacific and as Associate Director of Central Intelligence for Military Support. In completing his intelligence team, Obama also chose John Brennan to serve as Homeland Security Advisor and Deputy National Security Advisor for Counter-terrorism as an Assistant to the President and Leon Panetta [professional profile] to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website]. If approved, Panetta will replace current director Michael Hayden who has defended [JURIST report] the use of controversial interrogation techniques. Hayden called interrogation techniques such as waterboarding [JURIST news archive] harsh but effective. Blair stated in his testimony that he did not believe such torturous acts were effective as a means of investigation.

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