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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Curt Weldon for National Intelligence Director

Okay, someone had to suggest it.

Negroponte to leave intel director post

WASHINGTON - National Intelligence Director John Negroponte will resign after 20 months in the job to become deputy secretary of state, two U.S. government officials said Wednesday night.

Negroponte took over in April 2005 as the nation's first intelligence chief, responsible for overseeing all 16 U.S. spy agencies. He will return to his roots as a career diplomat to become the No. 2 to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the officials said.

One of the officials said that the timing of Negroponte's departure was uncertain but that it was expected soon. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because there has been no announcement of the move.

Negroponte, 67, is stepping down as President Bush develops a new strategy on Iraq. The president has ordered reviews from his own agencies and the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which recommended a series of changes to reverse the "slide toward chaos."

Negroponte has held a series of tough posts in the Bush administration and has been at the center of the Iraq debate since before the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. He served as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. from 2001 to 2004 and ambassador to Baghdad until March 2005 before becoming intelligence chief. He also was ambassador to Mexico, from 1989-93.

Democrats taking control of Congress on Thursday have promised greater oversight of government agencies. The Senate Intelligence Committee, for instance, is planning hearings this month on the intelligence overhaul that Negroponte helped put in place.

A top candidate for the intelligence chief opening is retired Adm. Mike McConnell, the director of the National Security Agency from 1992 to 1996. McConnell is now a senior vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton, a government contractor and consulting firm.