Twenty-seven year CIA veteran Ray McGovern, writing at TomPaine.com, describes the appointment of John Negroponte to be director of National Intelligence as yet more evidence that Bush is “strengthening his cabinet’s capacity to mislead Congress and trample civil liberties.”
But what really worries him is how the President’s Daily Brief will be handled with Negroponte as DNI.
The scene visualized by President Bush yesterday for his morning briefing routine, once Negroponte is confirmed, stands my hair on end. I did such morning briefings for the vice president, the secretaries of State and Defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the National Security Assistant from 1981 to 1985—each of them one-on-one. Our small team of briefers was comprised of senior analysts who had been around long enough to earn respect and trust. We had the full confidence of the CIA director; when he was in town we would brief him just before lunch, hours after we had made the rounds downtown.
From what President Bush said yesterday, John Negroponte, the man farthest removed from substantive intelligence analysis—not to mention the background and genesis of the briefing items chosen for a particular day—will be the president’s “primary briefer.” I am told that President Bush does not read the President’s Daily Brief, but rather has it read to him.
Who will do the reading? Who will attempt to answer the president’s questions? Will there be a senior analyst there in a supporting role? Will s/he have career protection, should it be necessary to correct Negroponte’s answers? Will Negroponte ask CIA Director Porter Goss to participate as well? Will the briefer feel constrained with very senior officials there? Will s/he be able to speak without fear of favor, drawing, for example, on what the real experts say regarding Iran’s nuclear capability and plans? These are important questions. A lot will depend on the answers.