NRO di­rec­tor can­di­date

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

De­fense sources say a lead­ing can­di­date to be the next di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Re­con­nais­sance Of­fice (NRO), the se­cret intelligence agency that builds and op­er­ates the na­tion’s con­stel­la­tion of spy satel­lites, is for­mer CIA of­fi­cial Carol Staubach.

The likely ap­point­ment is rais­ing ques­tions among some in Congress and the intelligence com­mu­nity about the close as­so­ci­a­tions of sev­eral cur­rent and for­mer intelligence of­fi­cials with Booz Allen Hamil­ton, a lead­ing intelligence agency con­sul­tant.

Ms. Staubach is cur­rently a vice pres­i­dent at Booz Allen in­volved in “the NRO mar­ket,” ac­cord­ing to the com­pany’s Web site.

The di­rec­tor of na­tional intelligence (DNI), re­tired Navy Vice Adm. Michael McCon­nell, also worked for Booz Allen be­fore tak­ing his po­si­tion, and for­mer NRO Di­rec­tor Keith Hall works for Booz Allen.

“When ev­ery­one asked the ques­tion, how will Mike McCon­nell’s as­so­ci­a­tion with Booz Allen af­fect how he makes de­ci­sions, it’s ap­par­ent that he is demon­strat­ing loy­alty to his for­mer com­pany,” said one intelligence source who is skep­ti­cal of Ms. Staubach’s lead­er­ship skills.

Ms. Staubach is a 33-year CIA vet­eran who spent 15 years on de­tail to NRO. From Au­gust 2001 to July 2003, she was di­rec­tor of NRO’s Im­agery Sys­tems Ac­qui­si­tions and Op­er­a­tions and in charge of buy­ing and op­er­at­ing clas­si­fied spy satel­lites. That post put her in charge of bud­get­ing bil­lions of dol­lars in satel­lite pro­grams.

The NRO di­rec­tor post is open as a re­sult of the cur­rent Di­rec­tor Richard Kerr’s ap­point­ment as deputy di­rec­tor of na­tional intelligence.

Ellen Cioc­cio, a spokes­woman for Mr. McCon­nell, said Mr. Kerr re­mains at NRO and thus “it would be pre­ma­ture to com­ment on a re­place­ment” while the Se­nate con­sid­ers his nom­i­na­tion.

“That said, when and if a new NRO di­rec­tor is ap­pointed, he or she will be ap­pointed by the sec­re­tary of de­fense with the con­cur­rence of the DNI” as re­quired by intelligence re­form law, she said.

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