NRO director candidate
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.