Washington Brief

Negroponte - Intel Chief ?

Washington, DC. Feb. 19th, 2005 ---- John Negroponte will make a good Intelligence Chief for the right wing Bush Administration. First of all he hasn't a clue about running a major department, or company. He will be guided by the Karl Roves of the world.

Secondly he has the proven ability of standing up to his ass in a snowdrift and denying under oath that there have been snowflakes falling. He proved that in Honduras. He can similarly testify to the UN that an imagined threat is real, pointing fingers everywhere but to the White House. He proved that at the UN.

He spent six months in Iraq and billions of dollars disappeared for projects unknown, with results unsatisfactory. A great resume item to oversee the CIA and the other agencies.

The question though is what will he oversee, and is he just a political appointee to cover the promises to the 9/11 commission. For example will The Office of Special Plans, or whatever it is called today move from illegal operations in the Pentagon, to being a legitimate intelligence operation under..... or in competition with the CIA.

And will we see Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz then create the "Office of Not So Special Plans" which continues the work of their private intelligence agency, if the original goes under the control of Negroponte.

For a political party that alleges it doesn't like big government it seems to revel in creating huge unwieldy and flawed bureaucracies. The Department of Homeland Security appears to be recruiting anyone with a security clearance who can spell "Intelligence Analyst" for their own duplicated and triplicated intelligence operations. Will these be under Negroponte, or are these for spying on the people who are spying on the people.

But hold on here, wasn't the Central Intelligence Agency created to oversee all intelligence functions, and prevent duplication and the many other failures that have become standard operating procedure. Apparently not.

So after six months hiding behind the walls of a vacated Palace in Baghdad the President believes Negroponte has an outstanding grasp of intelligence gathering and analysis. So what do the huge military intelligence staffs do if the Ambassador is the key to intelligence operations in Iraq. No wonder the reconstruction is in such a financial mess. The CEO was out interrogating prisoners and gathering intel.

So what can Negroponte bring to the table. Well he isn't military, and he isn't law enforcement, he isn't CIA or NSA, and he hasn't a clue about managing a Washington bureaucracy. Maybe he can look at the issues in a fresh light. Maybe he can create a streamlined efficient organization to combat terrorism and increase security, as Gov. Tom Ridge did with Homeland Security. Just kidding!

He does know how to avoid War Crime charges, he worked for Henry Kissinger, and learned even more in Honduras and Central America under President Reagan. So if George decides to find more Weapons of Mass Distraction in Syria, and starts a bombing campaign the next afternoon, then Negroponte will have a good story for the UN, and a brilliant piece of plausible deniability for the American public.

But just adding another contact person is not going to fix the problems of effective global intelligence. Massive duplication of effort needs to be corrected, and just encapsulating the sprawling mess in a shining new bubble will not help America in the years ahead. Maybe the idea is to bring an element of competition into the Intelligence Community. Maybe the president believes Syria has weapons of mass destruction and the agency coming up with the biggest number wins a bonus. Competitive Intelligence could take on a whole new meaning.

Goss to Rumsfeld, "I'll see you two hundred nukes, and raise you sixty submarines and ten Al Qaeda trainiing camps." The President is happy, Goss gets a bonus, and Damascus gets bombed.

But look at it as a means of ensuring solidarity and "Keeping it on Message" . Karl Rove decides it would make good policy to invade Bermuda. Goss, Rice, Rumsfeld and Negroponte would immediately come out singing "Hey Ho, Hey Ho It's off to Bermuda we go" and there would be no dissenting voice, or voice of reason. The Daily Briefing would reflect Rove's thoughts and we would lose even more friends, who once bought American goods and services.

Now can someone tell me again what are Negroponte's qualifications for the job. And while you're at it what is his job? Has anyone seen a job description?

Alan Simpson brings you regular commentary from the corridors of power in Washington DC . With experience of working in over 80 countries he looks at events from a global perspective.