Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Negroponte: Three Strikes and He's In

President Bush's nomination of John Negroponte, the current United States Ambassador to Iraq, to be the nation's first National Director of Intelligence (DNI) is puzzling, if not troubling. The President has left a critical gap in Baghdad and settled for his fourth choice, a man who may not have the strength to do battle with Donald Rumsfeld in the upcoming struggle for control of the intelligence bureaucracy.

Negroponte's appointment is especially ironic in light of President Bush's repeated statements that Iraq is the frontline in our war against terrorism and Wednesday's testimony by CIA Director Porter Goss that the war in Iraq "has become a cause for extremists." This seems like a particularly inopportune time to remove our man in Baghdad.

The real question is not whether Negroponte lacks the management capabilities and experience in the intelligence community to succeed, but whether he is the strongest candidate to bring together 15 agencies and go toe-to-toe with Rumsfeld, who currently controls 80 percent of the estimated $40 billion intelligence budget. President Bush struck out at least three times on his way to settling on Negroponte.

The conventional wisdom has already established that Negroponte can be confirmed but – in an era of increasingly aggressive intelligence – serious questions about Negroponte's record on human and civil rights abuses must be addressed by the Senate. Negroponte's loyal service to Bush in extraordinarily difficult positions by no means erases the history of his involvement with—or inattention to—the human rights abuses perpetrated by Honduran death squads during his tenure as ambassador to Honduras from 1981-1985.

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