Director of National Intelligence Resigns; Obama Interviewing Replacements

After a series of recent public failures in national security, the nation's Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair, has handed in his resignation, and will officially step down from his post next Friday, May 28th.

Fox News confirms President Obama asked for Blair to leave.

And in a clear sign that there is no love lost, the White House has already lined up potential replacements, a senior administration official tells Fox.

Those under consideration include Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence James Clapper, who is also a retired Air Force Lieutenant General, Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan and James Cartwright, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"It is with deep regret that I informed the President today that I will step down as Director of National Intelligence effective Friday, May 28th," Blair said in a statement Thursday addressed to the intelligence community he oversaw.

"Every day, you have worked tirelessly to provide intelligence support for two wars and to prevent an attack on our homeland...Your work over the past 16 months has made the Intelligence Community more integrated, agile, and representative of American values. Keep it up - I will be cheering for you," he added, without an explanation for his departure.

In a paper statement released by the White House Thursday evening, Mr. Obama praised Blair for his leadership:

"Dennis Blair has a remarkable record of service to the United States, and I am grateful for his leadership as Director of National Intelligence. Over the course of many decades, Admiral Blair has served with great integrity, intellect, and commitment to our country and the values that we hold dear. During his time as DNI, our intelligence community has performed admirably and effectively at a time of great challenges to our security, and I have valued his sense of purpose and patriotism. He and I both share a deep admiration for the men and women of our intelligence community, who are performing extraordinary and indispensable service to our nation."

Blair is the third Director of National Intelligence. He will officially submit his resignation Friday. Administration officials tell Fox they have already been interviewing several "strong candidates" to replace him.

In recent months, there has been a public rift between CIA Director Leon Panetta and Blair over whose job it was to appoint intelligence chiefs overseas. Compounding that rift was his reputation among some on the Hill as a "know-it-all."

Then there were the comments by Blair when he mistakenly told Congress that a new interrogation unit should have been deployed to question the failed Christmas Day bomber. In fact, that unit had yet to be formed.

But perhaps the final straw came after a scathing report just days ago outlining the intelligence failures which Congress concluded could have prevented the would-be attacker from boarding his plane.

However, House Intelligence Committee Member Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), sees a different reason behind Blair's decision to leave. "That a man who has willingly dedicated himself to the cause of our nation's freedom would rather step down than continue to serve as America's top intelligence officer is a disturbing sign of the stranglehold the Obama White House has placed on America's intelligence agencies," Hoekstra lamented.

"Clearly, and understandably, Director Blair was frustrated by the White House's micromanagement and sidelining of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on national security issues."

Blair became the third Director of National Intelligence in 2009. The position was created in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks.

FOX News' Anne McGinn and Kimberly Schwandt contributed to this report.