Friday, January 05, 2007

deckchairs? check. Titanic? check. . . .

John Negroponte, a man who was only ever good at one thing in his life, and that was empowering death squads, is cutting and running from his cabinet level job as Director of National Intelligence to handle Condi Rice’s dirty laundry as her deputy at the Department of State.

Apparently, Rice and President Bush asked Negroponte (former Ambassador to Honduras and Iraq, among other blood-soaked spots) to leave that supposedly important DNI post to take on some of Rice’s workload—specifically, handling China, North Korea and Iraq—so that the Secretary of State can purportedly devote more of her time to Middle East Peace. . . and shoe shopping.

Shoe joke aside, honestly, if Rice wants to offload the PRC, the DPRK, and the Iraq debacle, then what exactly are we paying her for?

In addition, just what kind of commitment to intelligence reform does Bush demonstrate by asking Negroponte to leave the job of setting up this new National Intelligence bureaucracy stunningly unfinished so that John can spend more quality time in Foggy Bottom?

Also, what does this say about the Bush Administration’s talent pool when the president has to shuffle Negroponte, Zalmay Khalilzad, and two or three others in order to keep a few key foreign policy posts filled? (Rhetorical question.)

Finally, with Bush set to nominate retired Vice Admiral John Michael McConnell to replace Negroponte as DNI, the US will have all of its major intelligence agencies headed by military men (including Michael Hayden at CIA and Keith Alexander at NSA), while the Defense Department is now run by a former top spook, Robert Gates.

When many across the political spectrum seem to feel that one of the major problems with US intelligence is that it is overly militarized and overly controlled by the military (80% of the intelligence budget is controlled by the Pentagon), doesn’t the current arrangement seem absurd, if not outright dangerous to our national security?


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