New Top Spy Inherits An Office Still Finding Its Way




 
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January 7th, 2007  
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Topic: New Top Spy Inherits An Office Still Finding Its Way


Washington Post
January 7, 2007
Pg. 10
McConnell's Tasks Include the Ongoing Integration of Agencies as Well as Advising the President
By Walter Pincus, Washington Post Staff Writer
President Bush's choice to be the second director of national intelligence, retired Navy Vice Adm. John M. McConnell, must pick up the job of restructuring the nation's $42 billion intelligence community, which after 19 months is still very much a work in progress.
At the White House on Friday, outgoing director John D. Negroponte said, "Admiral McConnell will continue to drive forward the reforms we have initiated, fully integrating the domestic, foreign and military dimensions of our national intelligence enterprise."
McConnell responded, "I plan to continue the strong emphasis on integration of the community to better serve all of our customers."
He will manage the collection and analysis of intelligence from the 17 agencies and roughly 100,000 people in the U.S. intelligence community. Bush emphasized that the director also "determines the national intelligence budget." That was a major recommendation of the 9/11 commission, and one Congress adopted when it passed legislation in December 2004 creating the director of national intelligence (DNI).
The DNI's other major role is as the president's top intelligence adviser. That means being present six mornings a week when Bush gets his national security briefing. That session offers the DNI an opportunity not only to have time with the president, but to hear and take part in the ensuing discussion with Vice President Cheney, national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley and chief of staff Joshua B. Bolten, who are also in the room.
This part of the job requires the DNI to take time the night before to read the roughly 28-page daily briefing report and to show up at his Old Executive Office Building suite next to the White House at about 6:30 each morning to go over the latest intelligence. One person familiar with the process described it as worthwhile, "to get a sense of what's on everyone's mind."
Another aspect of the DNI's role as top intelligence adviser to the president is attendance at high-level White House meetings, which have been increasingly frequent since the Iraq war began. Those meetings can be handled by the deputy DNI, though no one currently holds that job. How McConnell will divide his time between this advisory role and the intelligence community duties, should he be confirmed, remains to be seen.
One of the early tasks he will face, according to a senior intelligence official, is reviewing the 2004 law that created his position to see whether changes need to be made. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has already scheduled hearings to review how the restructuring legislation is working out.
McConnell, 63, served in the Navy as a career intelligence officer, rising to vice admiral when he headed the National Security Agency from 1992 to 1996. After his retirement from the Navy, he took a private-sector job in March 1996 with the Booz Allen Hamilton consulting firm, where he rose to be senior vice president.
John Moseman, a former senior CIA official who works with McConnell at Booz Allen, said McConnell has been "successful in helping it become an incredibly collaborative organization." That approach, "reaching across and pulling together teams of people," is a talent that is needed in the DNI job, where "you need collaboration at every level," Moseman said.
At the White House on Friday, McConnell said his private-sector work during the past 10 years "has allowed me to stay focused on national security and intelligence communities as a strategist and as a consultant." In many respects, he said, "I never left" the intelligence business.
Booz Allen makes it clear on its Web site that McConnell has played a leading role in its handling of contracts in the fields of intelligence and military affairs. "McConnell leads the firm's assignments in Military Intelligence and Information Operations for the Department of Defense, the Unified Combatant Commanders, Military Services, and Defense Agencies," according to the site.
 


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