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Bush's spy chief quits to support Iraq 'surge'

London Times | January 4, 2007
Tim Reid

President Bush's intelligence chief John Negroponte is to resign after less than two years in the job days before the White House is expected to announce an escalation of the war.

Mr Negroponte, a Bush loyalist, veteran diplomat and the US Ambassador in Baghdad between June 2004 and April 2005, will leave his post as Director of National Intelligence to become the deputy Secretary of State under Condoleeza Rice, government officials said last night. Dr Rice has been without a deputy since the resignation of Robert Zoellick in June last year, and it is understood that several other senior career diplomats have turned down the job in recent months.

However, Mr Negroponte, who played an integral part in trying to sell the invasion of Iraq as US Ambassador to the UN in the build-up to the war, has made clear that he believes the new national intelligence bureaucracy — the amalgamation of 16 agencies after the September 11 attacks — to be an unwieldy mess, and has shown little relish for the job.

Although his move is technically a demotion, Mr Negroponte's new role comes at a crucial juncture for Mr Bush and will inevitably be focused on one issue: justifying an additional “surge” of US troops into Iraq.

The President is expected to lay out his new strategy for Iraq next week, advocating an additional commitment of at least 30,000 troops in and around Baghdad.

Mr Negroponte's likely successor as head of US intelligence is the retired Admiral Mike McConnell, director of the National Security Agency from 1992 to 1996

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