Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion shake-up: Ne­gro­ponte to shift to No. 2 diplo­mat

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Bill Gertz and David R. Sands

In a day of shake-ups for the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion on Jan. 4, Pres­i­dent Bush lost his chief coun­sel and sig­naled he will shift the top intelligence of­fi­cial to be­come the No. 2 diplo­mat at the State De­part­ment, and will tap a for­mer ad­mi­ral to take his place as head of the intelligence com­mu­nity.

Mean­while, sev­eral press re­ports sayMr.Bush­has­de­cid­ed­to­movethe U.S. am­bas­sador to Iraq to be­come the am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, and has cho­sen a new mil­i­tary leader to lead U.S. forces in the war on ter­ror­ism.

Thechangescomeasheis­work­ing on anew strat­egy for Iraq, which Mr. Bush­said­hewil­lan­nouncethisweek.

Mr. Bush on Jan. 5 tapped John D. Ne­gro­ponte,thedi­rec­to­rof­na­tion­al­in­tel­li­gence (DNI), to be­come Sec­re­tary of State Con­doleezza Rice’s deputy, and will nom­i­nate re­tired Navy Vice Adm. Mike McCon­nell to fill his intelligence post, ac­cord­ing to a se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial.

“What you’ve got are two guys of undis­puted qual­ity,” the of­fi­cial told re­porters.

Both po­si­tions re­quire Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion, and the of­fi­cial pre­dicted easy con­fir­ma­tion. Mr. Ne­gro­ponte was­con­firmed98-2bytheSe­nate­for the intelligence post in 2005, and the of­fi­cial­saidAdm.McCon­nell­willimpress sen­a­tors when he meets them.

But sen­a­tors said they were dis­ap­pointed Mr. Ne­gro­ponte was leav­ing the po­si­tion he has held since it was cre­ated just two years ago, say­ing he has made strides but there is a lot more work to be done.

Sen. John D. Rock­e­feller IV, West Vir­gini­aDemocratand­chair­manof the Se­nate intelligence com­mit­tee, saidthe­va­can­cy­isallthe­moretrou­bling be­cause the intelligence deputy’s slot has been va­cant since May.He­said­hewil­l­try­tomakesure a re­place­ment is con­firmed be­fore Mr. Ne­gro­ponte de­parts for the diplo­matic post.

Of­fi­cials said the move to the State De­part­ment would suit Mr. Ne­gro­ponte,aca­reerFor­eignSer­vice­of­fi­cer.

At the State De­part­ment, spokesman Sean McCor­mack de­scribed Mr. Ne­gro­ponte as a “diplo­mat’sdiplo­mat”with­allthe­qual­i­fica- tions re­quired to fill the de­part­ment’s sec­ond-most-pow­er­ful post.

His ap­point­ment would fill the va­cancy cre­ated when for­mer Deputy Sec­re­tary Robert B. Zoellick left in July for a job on Wall Street.

Adm. McCon­nell would bring in­tel­li­gence­ex­pe­ri­ence­totheDNI­post, hav­ing headed the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency from 1992 to 1996.

He is a well-re­garded ca­reer mil­i­tary intelligence spe­cial­ist but also some­one who is not ex­pected to ini­ti­a­te­oro­ver­seema­jor­reforms,cur­rent and for­mer intelligence of­fi­cials said.

Mr. Ne­gro­ponte was the first DNI un­der re­forms that grew out of the Septem­ber 11 intelligence fail­ures, and crit­ics of the new of­fice say it cre­ated a new layer of bu­reau­cracy in an overly bureau- cratic intelligence sys­tem.

Mean­while, both Reuters news agency and ABC News re­ported that Zal­may Khalilzad, the U.S. am­bas­sador­toIraq,will­benom­i­natedas­the next am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions,andABCre­port­edMr.Bushhas cho­sen Adm. William J. Fal­lon to re­place Gen. John Abizaid as the head ofU.S.Cen­tralCom­mand,whichisin charge of U.S. mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In­thechangeth­athitsclos­es­t­toMr. Bush, Harriet E. Miers, the White House’s chief coun­sel who con­ser­va­tives blocked from be­com­ing a Supreme Court jus­tice in 2005, an­nounced she is re­sign­ing her po­si­tion in the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Stephen Di­nan con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle.

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