Intel director-to-be resigns defense company post

WASHINGTON -- Before taking his new job as head of U.S. intelligence, retired Adm. Dennis Blair has to resign lucrative directorships on the boards of two companies that do tens of millions of dollars of business with the Defense Department.

Blair, who two years ago ran afoul of Pentagon conflict-of-interest rules, has already resigned a $100,000-a-year post with Iridium Satellite LLC, according to company spokeswoman Liz DeCastro.

Blair also has a $200,000-a-year position on Tyco International's board, according to his financial disclosure report, released Tuesday by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics. Tyco said in its Jan. 21 proxy statement that it expected Blair to step down when he is confirmed for the new job.

Blair also earns $75,000 from the National Bureau of Asian Research, and earned numerous speaking and consulting fees last year, according to financial disclosure forms filed with the Office of Government Ethics.

All told, Blair would be giving up more than $375,000 in pay a year to take the national intelligence director job. He'll be taking more than a $175,000 pay cut: The national intelligence director earns $197,700 annually, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

Blair's employment with Tyco helped embroil him in a Pentagon conflict-of-interest investigation two years ago.

Blair resigned in 2006 from his top position at the Pentagon-funded Institute for Defense Analyses after the Senate Armed Services Committee raised concerns about his simultaneous service on the boards of Tyco and EDO Corp.

A Pentagon investigation cleared him of wrongdoing but said he should have recused himself from two studies that concerned the F-22 fighter jet, for which EDO and Tyco made parts.

He gave up his job as president of IDA and stepped down from EDO, which makes missiles for the fighter plane, but remained on at Tyco.

At his confirmation hearing, Blair told the Senate Intelligence Committee Jan. 22 that it was a mistake not to recuse himself from the studies.

"The greatest damage was the damage to my own reputation for integrity caused by that decision and of course, the reputation of the Institute for Defense Analysis," he said.

Tyco makes electronic security and fire-alarm monitoring, firefighting and water purification equipment, and galvanized steel tubes and armored wire and cable.

Iridium has provided the U.S. military with satellite communications under a multiyear contract worth tens of millions of dollars. It operates 66 satellites to allow global communications, the largest commercial satellite constellation in the world according to the company. Pentagon contracts account for about a fifth of Iridium's $260 million annual business, according to deCastro.

Blair pledged to the Intelligence Committee that if confirmed he would be scrupulous about avoiding potential conflict-of-interest situations.

"I will not take any action that ... can remotely cause that kind of a situation to happen again," he said.

He also promised that he will look closely at the role of private contractors in the intelligence agencies and ensure that inherently governmental jobs will be carried out by federal employees. He said he considers CIA interrogators to be among those inherent government jobs.

The former head of U.S. Pacific Command, Blair would oversee a budget of nearly $50 billion and a work force of more than 100,000.

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Associated Press Writer Sharon Theimer contributed to this report


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