Mr. Bush has claimed the authority to tap telephones and open mail without court orders in order to gather the intelligence he needs to conduct the war on terrorism. However, it seems intelligence isn't important enough to require that someone be in charge of it. From Thursday's New York Times:
John D. Negroponte, whom President Bush installed less than two years ago as the first Director of National Intelligence (DNI), will soon leave his post to become the State Department’s second-ranking official, administration officials said Wednesday.
Mr. Negroponte will fill a critical job that has been vacant for months, and he is expected to play a leading role in shaping policy in Iraq. But his transfer is another blow to an intelligence community that has seen little continuity at the top since the departure of George J. Tenet in 2004 as director of central intelligence.
The leading candidate to replace Negroponte in the top intelligence spot is J. Michael McConnell, a retired vice admiral who formerly headed the National Security Agency and was head of intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Colin Powell.
The move will be a demotion for Negroponte and a promotion for McConnell. Negroponte will be stepping down from a cabinet level position and McConnell will be stepping up to one. It's uncertain why Negroponte agreed to the switch, but on the surface, it seems to be a change for the better. Negroponte is, after all, a career diplomat, and McConnell is a career intelligence officer. It could be a good thing, for once, to have people in key Bush administration positions who are actually qualified to fill them.
But there's more to this story than meets the eye.
Neo-connecting the Dots (Again)
To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of the neoconservative stranglehold on U.S. policy under Mr. Bush have been greatly exaggerated.
Admiral McConnell worked closely with new Secretary of Defense Robert Gates when Gates was CIA director under Bush the elder. Both of those men worked closely with Dick Cheney, who was Secretary of Defense under Big Daddy during Gulf War I.
John Negroponte was young Mr. Bush's first Ambassador to the United Nations. He was appointed as U.S. ambassador to Iraq in 2004, right about the time most of us started figuring out that the situation in that country was headed south on a runaway train. Like Secretary of Defense Gates, Negroponte is thought to have been a key co-conspirator in the Reagan era Iran/Contra scandal. Negroponte was U.S. Ambassador to Honduras at the time.
As Director of National Intelligence, Negroponte reportedly blocked the publication of a CIA National Intelligence Estimate that described the situation in Iraq as a "civil war" long before NBC and the rest of the mainstream media committed to using that label.
The bottom line: don't be tricked into thinking that all the recent Bush administration senior personnel moves represent some kind of "new deal." It's just a reshuffle of the same deck, and it's still stacked.
All the Vice President's Men
Despite his efforts to keep a low profile lately, all roads of U.S. policy still conspicuously lead to the office of Dick "Kingpin" Cheney, and if you want to know what Cheney's agenda is, you need look no further than whatever his neo-conspirator William Kristol has to say.
Kristol was a founder of the Project for the New American Century, which was, in essence, a working group subsidiary of the American Enterprise Institute, a neoconservative think tank. Kristol also founded the neoconservative Weekly Standard , and is a prominent on-air pundit with Rupert Murdoch's right wing cable news channel Fox News. Kristol's father Irving is considered to be the "godfather" of American neoconservatism.
Bill Kristol and his neocon network are the ones behind the proposal to increase troop levels in Iraq, and to boost the overall personnel end strength of U.S. ground forces. Bill Kristol also promotes a U.S. military attack on Iran.
Bill Kristol's close neoconservative associates include Dick Cheney, who was a charter member of the PNAC, as was current Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, who will now work closely with Mr. Negroponte on the Middle East situation.
The people in charge of getting us out of the merde are the same ones now in charge of getting us out of it.
The cable news channels are carrying footage of the "takeover" of Congress by the Democrats today, but don't get too excited about their ability to rein in the Bush administration. The same fools and fanatics still drive the horses.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.