Bush Nominates Negroponte for Director of National Intelligence

Bush names Negroponte intelligence chief (CNN)

President Bush on Thursday nominated John Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, as the nation’s first director of national intelligence. “The director’s responsibility is straightforward and demanding,” Bush said in his announcement. “John will make sure those whose duty it is to defend America have the information we need to make the right decisions.”

Negroponte, 65, has been the top U.S. diplomat in Iraq since June. He was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 2001 to 2004.

Bush also announced that he had chosen Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden, director of the National Security Agency, as Negroponte’s deputy.

I’ll wait until I read more about why Negroponte was chosen before forming a firm opinion. At first blush, though, this strikes me as a very odd choice. Negroponte has no background in intelligence or managing a huge bureaucracy of which I’m aware.

FILED UNDER: Intelligence, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. I may change my mind upon hearing more, but my gut tells me this is actually a pretty good choice. The biggest challenge the new DNI is going to face has little to do with intelligence and much to do with politics and negotiation – something that Negroponte has a good bit of experience at under the most difficult of circumstances (ie, trying to convince France to support an Iraqi war and then being ambassador to Iraq).

    I think it’s noteworthy that after those two experiences Negroponte calls his new job “the most challenging assignment I have undertaken in more than 40 years of government service.”

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    Presumably he’s very, very loyal.

  3. George says:

    Negroponte won’t have to “[manage] a huge bureaucracy.” It’s my understanding he’ll only have to manage his secretary and perhaps a press spokesman because that will be the extent of his authority.

  4. SoloD says:

    Dave has hit it right on the head. Experience and knowledge alsways take a back seat to loyalty with this adminstration.

  5. Anderson says:

    He *does* have experience turning a blind eye to torture & worse, which is a valuable skill for anyone overseeing the CIA these days.

  6. McGehee says:

    This just in: Deprived of their opportunity to blast President Bush for not naming a DNI, left-leaning blog commenters resort to playing the same old cards that have never gotten them any traction before. Will this be the time it actually works?

    Stay tuned!

  7. Dougrc says:

    Heehee, McGehee! Got them right between the eyes. They never let the facts get in the way of a good whine. According to AP, President Bush said that “people who control the money, people who have access to the president generally have a lot of influence. And that’s why John Negroponte is going to have a lot of influence. He will set the budgets.”

    The way that you control any bureaucracy, or in this case, multiple bureaucracies, is to make people below you accountable. Judging from the President’s comments there will be pressure from above for the agencies to produce solid intel, which will be shared with the other agencies; all of it being filtered through Negroponte’s deputy director Lt. Gen. Mike Hayden. At NSA Hayden was known for swinging a big stick and shook up the entrenched bureaucrats there. It should be a good show watching the 15 intelligence agencies compete for budget, being judged by their performance.

  8. Anderson says:

    “Never let the facts get in the way”? Come now.

    Sarah Wildman in TNR, 2001:

    Midway through a foreign service career that began in the mid-’60s in Vietnam and continued through a stint in Mexico in the ’90s, Negroponte served as ambassador to Honduras. It was the early ’80s, and the Honduran government was killing and “disappearing” political opponents by the dozens. Most close observers, including some who served within the U.S. embassy, insist America knew about the abuses. And they accuse Negroponte of turning a blind eye. * * *

    Negroponte still stuck to the party line: “I have never seen any convincing substantiation that they were involved in death-squad-type activities,” he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his Mexico confirmation hearings in 1989.

    The man’s qualifications for DNI in the Bush White House are self-evident—this on a day when we have new details of the CIA’s murder of an Iraqi prisoner at Abu Ghraib.