This morning President Bush announced his decision to pull America’s lead man in Iraq, John Negroponte, and appoint him to be the new national director of intelligence. Though the White House claimed the delay was just President Bush trying to “get it right,” at least three potential nominees (Robert Gates, Sam Nunn and William Barr) turned the job down. The NDI will be the country’s quarterback on intelligence – coordinating and leading all 15 partners of the intelligence community.
Given that Bush has repeatedly told America that Iraq is the “central front in the war on terror,” and he thinks that Negroponte is serving with “distinction in Iraq,” why is he being pulled at such a critical juncture?
Negroponte’s most notable experience in intelligence is breaking the law in Honduras . Perhaps his strongest qualification to be the NDI is simply that he is confirmable. Though his nomination as ambassador to the United Nations was held up when several senators demanded answers for his actions (or lack thereof) in Honduras, after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, there was such a great need to have a consistent voice at the U.N. that Negroponte was able to fast-track through the confirmation process.
He was then confirmed again when Bush nominated him to be ambassador in Iraq, and so it’s expected he will be confirmed to this new role.