My little hamster wheel has been spinning white hot ever since I read that John Negroponte is leaving his position as Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to take a position as Deputy Secretary of State. This is some really, really strange stuff. There are some very deep politics beneath this.
First we have to examine John Negroponte. He currently has a very prestigious position. He is in charge of coordinating all U.S. intelligence activities and, most importantly, he has the job of briefing the President each morning. The people that serve the President can be loosely defined into three groups. There are the principles (Cabinet members, plus Vice-President Dick Cheney, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, and DNI Negroponte), and their deputies, and everyone else. You might remember that Richard Clarke complained about being demoted under Bush to a deputy level. That meant he could not directly get the ear of the President. Richard Clarke was stuck jibber-jabbering with Richard Armitage, Scooter Libby, and Paul Wolfowitz rather than talking to Powell, Rummy, and Cheney). Why on earth would Negroponte agree to move from the adult’s table to eat at the fold-out kiddie’s table?
The official explanation is completely disingenuous:
Mr. Negroponte previously served as ambassador to the United Nations and to Iraq, and administration officials say Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had been trying to recruit him to bring more Iraq expertise to her office.
Mr. Negroponte’s move to the State Department has been rumored for months. [ed. note: I haven’t heard a peep] Ms. Rice was pushing to bring Mr. Negroponte in as her deputy, and officials in Washington speculated that the career diplomat might be more comfortable returning to the State Department.
Can you imagine George Tenet leaving the CIA to be Powell’s deputy? Can you imagine Rumsfeld leaving the Pentagon to be Rice’s deputy? If Rice had suggested to Negroponte that he be her deputy he would have looked at her like she had two heads and told her to ream herself.
So far I have come up with two scenarios that might explain this entirely unprecedented development. They are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
Scenario One: Condi Rice cannot handle her position as Secretary of State but there is no position to move her to. It would be too big of a blow for Bush to fire her but he cannot get rid of her by retasking her. Negroponte is being brought in to run the State Department, while Rice will remain a figurehead. After a period of time Rice may take a job in the private sector citing burnout or ill-health or something. Negroponte has been assured that he will take over the top spot at some not too distant point in the future, or has been satisfied that he will be in the principles meetings and this is just for show.
Scenario Two: This is another part of a Poppy Bush coup. First they forced Porter Goss out of the CIA, then they moved Robert Gates into the Pentagon, now they move Negroponte into the State Department and put former NSA chief (under Poppy Bush and Clinton) J. Michael McConnel in as Director of National Intelligence. Poppy’s people know that Rice is untouchable, but they will use their old-hand Negroponte to control State and reassure our Sunni allies.
Why are they selling this as something that Rice wanted? Because it clearly indicates that she is unable to do her job and it undermines her authority. They are trying to blunt that perception by making it look like it is her idea.
The big questions are: how did they convince Bush to go along with this, and how did they convince Negroponte to go along with this? And who recommended J. Michael McConnel.
And here is a bit of connect the dots trivia for you. McConnell is currently Vice President and Director of Booz Allen Hamilton’s Infrastructure Assurance Center of Excellence. Booz Allen Hamilton has a longstanding relationship with our intelligence agencies, with former employees including R. James Woolsey, Jonathon Bush, Dov Zakheim, and Miles Copeland Jr. Here’s a little tidbit from Copeland’s career in-and-out of the CIA and Booz Allen.
In 1953, Copeland returned to private life at the consulting firm Booz, Allen & Hamilton, while remaining a non-official cover operative for the CIA. In this role he traveled to Cairo to offer Gamal Abdel Nasser, who had overthrown King Farouk and taken power in Egypt, U.S. technical assistance in their ongoing border conflicts. At the time, the U.S. considered the new state of Israel a threat to oil industry interests in the region.
In 1954, Syria merged with Egypt in the United Arab Republic; and in 1955 Copeland returned to the CIA. During the Suez Crisis, the United States decided to block France and the United Kingdom, which had invaded, and back Egypt’s independence and control of the Suez Canal, a move said to have been advocated by Copeland with the goal of ending British control of the region’s oil resources, and forestalling the influence of the Soviet Union on regional governments by placing the US on their side. Nevertheless, after the crisis Nasser moved closer to the USSR and accepted massive military technology and engineering assistance on the Aswan Dam. Copeland, allied with John and Allen Dulles, worked to reverse US diplomatic policy on Egypt at this time.
After King Faisal II was deposed by Iraqi nationalists, Copeland admittedly oversaw CIA contacts with the regime and internal opponents including Saddam Hussein and others in the Ba’ath Party. With Egyptian assistance, Hussein was aided in the failed assassination of Prime Minister Abdul Karim Qassim, who had blocked union with the United Arab Republic, a goal of the Ba’athists. Hussein fled to Cairo and bided his time under Egyptian protection until a coup against Qassim — which blindsided American officials — occurred in 1963. Seizing the moment, Hussein, said to have been provided with U.S. weapons, took part in massacres of suspected Communists as the new regime consolidated power, and rose in the Ba’ath power structure. 
So, you see? Bringing in a new Booz Allen guy to replace Negroponte is just in keeping with our rich history of getting it right in the Middle East. Same old guys doing the same old shit.
Deep. Very Deep.