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Commentary on the present and future of culture, politics, economics, and social values................... "At any given instant/All solids dissolve, no wheels revolve,/And facts have no endurance." W.H. Auden.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Negroponte Factor

President Bush has appointed John Negroponte as intelligence czar, a position created by the movement to reform and improve US intelligence gathering, production, and distribution. Senate confirmation seems assured.

Those who praise the appointment will stress Amassador Negroponte's forty years of service in the State Department with assignments worldwide, including his current assignment as ambassador to Iraq. Critics will complain that as ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985, he helped direct a "dirty war" in Nicaragua and El Salvador against alleged communist forces.

The real issue about Negroponte is something quite different from what his supporters and his critics say. That is whether he can stand up to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumseld. Rumsfeld is on a single-minded mission to control US foreign policy and intelligence operations. In this pursuit, he is relentless, ruthless, insulting, arrogant, and fiercely aggressive. No one in the Bush Administration, including the President, has been able to stand up to him and say "no." No one in Congress has been able to do so either.

For Negroponte to be successful in his new assignment, he will have to fight -- and win against -- Rumsfeld. His first major opponent is not in Baghdad, Kabul, Damascus, Pyongyang, or Tehran. He is in the Pentagon. If Negroponte fails in the coming struggle with Rumsfeld, he will fail as intelligence czar.

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