WASHINGTON – The admiral who developed two controversial Pentagon database programs quickly killed by Congress is leaving his post as head of the Information Awareness Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (search).
Senior Defense Department officials said Thursday John Poindexter (search) will resign from his advisory position in the "next few weeks."
"My understanding is that he is working through the details, and he expects to, within the next few weeks, offer his resignation," the official said.
Earlier in the week, the Pentagon agreed to kill a "predictive markets" Web site that invited participants to bet on the likelihood of terror attacks and upheaval in the Middle East and other global hotspots. The Future Markets Applied to Predictions (search) program would have allowed traders to buy and sell futures contracts based on their predictions about activities such as attempted assassinations of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat or a biological weapons attack on Israel.
The program was killed within days of the start of trader registration after lawmakers said they in no way authorized the funding for the program.
Congress also is refusing to fund the Total Information Awareness (search) program, another project conceived by Poindexter's office. TIA envisioned a massive data collection system that would have been able to track personal information and commercial transactions of just about anybody. It was the subject of piercing scrutiny by privacy advocates.
Senior officials said the admiral and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld realized that such unflinching attention to the Information Awareness Office (search) has been and would be counterproductive.
"I think his decision was probably a wise one," said Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican.
Poindexter is no stranger to political storms. As former national security adviser to President Reagan, he was a key figure in the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal.
Poindexter's supporters said even if the futures market was ill-conceived, it demonstrated creative thinking. Observers warned that removing from office the individuals who were thinking outside the box would do damage to an already stifled bureaucracy that has the heavy burden of trying to prevent future terror attacks.
The official who announced Poindexter's departure described the admiral's thought processes and methods as "certainly unorthodox. They are cutting-edge and beyond.
"He is someone with a very creative intellect, and he intends to focus that on counterterrorism," the official said, indicating that Poindexter could still contribute to Pentagon strategizing.Fox News' Bret Baier and Ian McCaleb and the Associated Press contributed to this report.