Thursday, January 4, 2007

Personnel Changes

The Director of National Intelligence, Ambassador John Negroponte; the first person to hold this position, is leaving the post he assumed in April 2005 to become Deputy Secretary of State.

Even though he will be No. 2 behind Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, this appears to be a major comedown, as well as a blow to the morale and organizational cohesion of the US intelligence services, which have been in substantial disarray since 9/11.

What is going on here ? Ambassador Negroponte will face a Senate confirmation – and the loons are running the asylum now. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, now chaired by Joe Biden, is populated by such know-it-alls as Christopher Dodd, Barbara Boxer, John Kerry and Russ Feingold, not to mention Saint Barack of Obama. I’m sure Senator Dodd will give us a long seminar on Ambassador Negroponte’s activities in Central America during the Contra War in Nicaragua.

The whole business is very strange. If Ambassador Negroponte is not working out as DNI, (which I do not for a moment believe), or otherwise in disgrace (also unlikely), then his departure would make sense. But why shuffle him to the State Department ? Ambassador Negroponte would appear to me to have entirely too much experience and clout for any Secretary of State’s comfort, and I cannot believe that Secretary Rice would be entirely comfortable with this. . .unless maybe she’s a short-timer ?

In any case, you don’t oust somebody big and then send him to an important post in one of the most leak-prone, troublesome departments in government. So, it seems that Ambassador Negroponte is not being ousted, or kicked sideways. . .he’s getting a real new job. But what kind of position ? Is this one of those Michael Corleone “stepping down” as Don deals ? Come to think of it, Ambassador Negroponte is more of a Republican Tom Hagen for intelligence world purposes – is he “no longer” the consigliere ? That is, is the spy boss just changing offices ?

I wonder if this has something to do with the apparently forthcoming new policy on Iraq ? Prior to becoming DNI, Ambassador Negroponte was in Baghdad. I wonder if he’s going back, this time with enough juice to boss around generals, diplomats and foreign heads of state ? The problem in Iraq, to my way of thinking, is more on the intelligence/secret police/paramilitary end of things than it is narrowly military, and it seems to fit Ambassador Negroponte's resume. If I were hiring fixers to send to Baghdad, Ambassador Negroponte's name would be top of my list. Either that, or he’s going to take a overdue hatchet to the State Department.
This is all speculation, and I can't wait to see some of the smarter speculators in the blogosphere weigh-in on this. I am really curious as to how this is going to unfold.
ADDENDUM (7:30 p.m. 4 Jan.): I confess, I'm mightily baffled by all this, if only because of the raft of confirmation hearings all this chair-shuffling is going to produce. Given the Wacko Party's running the necessary hearings; and that at least 35 percent of the inquisitors consider themselves Presidents-In-Waiting -- hearings aren't going to be good or fun, at least in the short term. In any case, Captain Ed over at Captain's Quarters, and Former Spook, at In From the Cold both have views on this matter worth consideration.

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