Friday, January 5, 2007

Shrub Shuffles The Deck

According to a very interesting article at MSNBC via Financial Times, we are in the midst of a rearrangement of toadies and manipulators which comes in the wake of the resignation aka firing of the notorious war criminal and former secretary of "defense", Donald H. Rumsfeld (aka Dumsfeld), and this rearrangement includes moving Doctor Death Squad from Director of National Intelligence to the State Department to work [ahem] under Condoleeza Rice.

It could be that FT is connecting dots that don't connect, but then again it's entirely possible that somebody has inside sources. The point is: any way you slice it, it sounds awful:

Concern as spy chief quits to join Rice
John Negroponte's abrupt shift from being the first US director of national intelligence to number two at the State Department reflects continued troubles in the intelligence community and a further concentration of power around Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state.

Analysts see the return of the career diplomat to the State Department as part of a broader and somewhat confused reshuffle of the Bush administration that began with the sacking of Donald Rumsfeld as defence secretary and has Iraq and the wider Middle East as its focus.
It's lovely how they do things, isn't it? The so-called president has been trained to see every single thing in terms of Iraq and the surrounding region, so that the Middle East -- al-Q'Aeda -- Terrorism -- Muslims -- are all and everything. A curious tunnel vision which sees lone losers like Derrick Shareef and African tribal leaders as part of a single amorphous and mysterious group against which serious force is not only required but unquestionably so. Arggggh!
Mr Negroponte's expected replacement by a retired admiral, Mike McConnell, would also mean that key intelligence posts would all be filled by active or former military personnel – an issue of concern to civilians in the community.
Right! And also, why the admirals all of a sudden? Did the so-called president find out the Army has had enough of him?
Officials said President George W. Bush would announce the changes on Friday, possibly including his nomination of Zalmay Khalilzad, ambassador to Baghdad, as the new US envoy to the UN.
I can hardly wait. So many savory pasts on these names, it almost makes you want to weep.

OK, strike the "almost".
There was also speculation on Thursday night that Ryan Crocker, US ambassador to Pakistan, would replace Mr Khalilzad in Baghdad, and that David Petraeus would replace George Casey, the senior US general in Iraq. Gen Petraeus's appointment would be taken as a signal that the US military could change course in Iraq to emphasise a "hearts and minds" approach, designed to isolate the insurgents and reduce support for sectarian groups.
Where was this sort of idea four years ago? All they could think of was bombing and bombing and seeing whether they could get Saddam to hit back even once. And now ... now they want to try to win the "hearts and minds"? Good luck!

Of course we do know how they win hearts and minds, don't we?
According to leaks put out by Reuters and ABC on Thursday night, Mr Bush is also expected to replace John Abizaid with Admiral William Fallon as head of central command, which oversees the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

With a week to go before Mr Bush is expected to announce his "new way forward in Iraq", the president spoke on Thursday for nearly two hours by video conference with Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister.

Less than two years ago, Mr Negroponte was elevated to co-ordinate all 16 distinct spy agencies following the 9/11 commission probe into the intelligence failures surrounding al-Qaeda's attacks. However, former intelligence officials say that the overhaul only succeeded in creating another layer of bureaucracy with inadequate powers.
"Inadequate powers"?

So they didn't let little Johnny set up Death Squads after all?

Paul Pillar, a former senior CIA analyst who has accused the Bush administration of ignoring the agency's findings before invading Iraq, said Mr Negroponte had been unfairly criticised by some in Congress and that he did not have enough control over the defence department's intelligence operations.

Reuel Gerecht, a former CIA officer and a critic of the agency, called the creation of the director of national intelligence (DNI) a "lame idea".

"It has only made an overstaffed intelligence establishment even fatter," he said.

Another former CIA operative who asked not to be named said Mr Negroponte had never wanted the job and had clashed with Mr Rumsfeld, who controlled more than 80 per cent of the intelligence budget. "Negroponte gave in," he said.
I laugh, but only in self-defence. This is serious stuff. Dumsfeld's militarization of intelligence is going to be a problem one time or another. Har de har.
Tensions between the DNI and the Pentagon may ease with the replacement of Mr Rumsfeld by Robert Gates, a former CIA director who has said he wants to yield important Pentagon intelligence activities.

Mr Gates is expected to appoint Lt-Gen James Clapper, who had fallen out of favour with Mr Rumsfeld, as his top intelligence official.

Former intelligence officials said Mr Negroponte was tired of bureaucratic turf wars and wanted to return to his diplomatic career.

Mr McConnell, a former head of the National Security Agency, is tipped to leave his consulting job to replace Mr Negroponte.
And more ... curiouser and curiouser ...