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ARLINGTON, Va. — Vice Adm. John Poindexter, a key figure in the Iran-contra affair and recently in the news again for a controversial betting program on predicting terrorist attacks, will resign from his position in a Defense research agency, a senior defense official said Thursday.

Poindexter, who served in 1986 as national security adviser to President Reagan, will leave as director of the Information Awareness Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, because his controversial background no longer makes him credible, said the official, who spoke with reporters on the condition of anonymity.

“Everyone certainly recognizes Adm. Poindexter’s background and in the context of that background, it became, in some ways, very difficult for him to receive an objective reading of the work he was doing on behalf of finding terrorists,” the official said. “It’s a reality, and he has a very active intellect. He intends to commit himself to finding terrorists, to identify terrorist activities.”

Poindexter was at the helm of a controversial program called FutureMap. In the program, market traders using the Internet would register and place bets into a stock-marketlike account and predict the occurrences of terrorist attacks, assassinations and coups.

Those bets, which could turn a profit for the traders, were also supposed to help in the tracking of future attacks.

The Defense official characterized some of the research programs coming from the Information Awareness Office as “certainly unorthodox.”

Pentagon leadership immediately canceled the research program as news of the controversial program surfaced Tuesday.

Poindexter reported for work Thursday morning at his office in Arlington, Va., said DARPA spokesman John Jennings.

Neither Poindexter nor Jennings were granting media interviews or commenting on his resignation.

Poindexter was convicted on five counts of misleading Congress and making false statements during the Iran-Contra affair, a secret arrangement to provide funds to the Nicaraguan contra rebels from profits gained by selling arms to Iran. The convictions were later overturned.

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