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