Negroponte: New to Intelligence

Earlier today, President Bush nominated John Negroponte to fill the position of director of national intelligence. Negroponte has been involved in the direction of a number of things in his past — the Contras and death squads to name just two — but he has not had the best relationship with U.S. intelligence. Take the intelligence concerning weapons of mass destruction in Iraq: Negroponte certainly was consistent, but unfortunately he was consistently wrong.

Early on he joined the chorus of people in the administration singing the myth of weapons of mass destruction. In fact, in late December of 2002, Negroponte referred to the Iraqi declaration that they didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction as “an insult to our intelligence and indeed an insult to this council.” By January 29th of 2003, he was brazenly declaring, “Obviously, as you know, from everything our government has said in the past, we are convinced that Iraq maintains and continues to pursue its WMD programs.”

(Later in that same press conference, he did a two-for-one by referencing the myth of Iraqi uranium and former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s pictures of aluminum tubes: “But if your question to me is, ‘Are we convinced that those tubes were designed and are being, were intended, for enrichment of uranium?’ The answer is definitively yes.”)

Five months down the road, Negroponte still did not have “any doubt that we will be able to establish that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”

Even into 2004, when it became more and more evident that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, Negroponte continued to assert that the war was nonetheless justified.

Considering that President Bush sees “no reason to hold any administration officials accountable for mistakes or misjudgments in prewar planning or managing the violent aftermath,” it is no surprise that Negroponte is the latest in a string of questionable nominations.