By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 3, 2006
Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte, who had been rumored to be going over to the State Department as deputy secretary, said last week that he plans to remain in his current position through the end of the Bush administration.
"In my own mind at least, I visualize staying . . . through the end of this administration, and then I think probably that'll be about the right time to pack it in," he told Brian Lamb in an interview done Wednesday that will be shown on C-SPAN today.
Concerns had been raised, on Capitol Hill and within the 16 agencies that make up the intelligence community, that Negroponte would leave the newly created position after having assembled a staff from other agencies that now totals 1,200.
"I've pulled together a very good team, and they've stayed with me for the past 18 months," he said, "and I hope they'll stay with me as long as I'm in the job."
Negroponte, 67, said anyone who holds his position has to have a good relationship with the defense secretary. He said he was looking forward to working with Robert M. Gates, President Bush's nominee to replace Donald H. Rumsfeld at the Pentagon.
At the end of the Reagan administration, Negroponte was the deputy national security adviser in the White House under Colin L. Powell and worked with Gates when he was CIA deputy director. "I had worked with him very closely . . . and look forward very much to working with him again," he said.
When Gates later came to the White House under President George H.W. Bush, he replaced Negroponte on the National Security Council staff as deputy director.
"One can't be responsible for overseeing the nation's intelligence activities without having a very good, cooperative and strong relationship with the Pentagon," Negroponte said.
Ironically, Gates, a former CIA director and longtime agency analyst, was openly opposed to the legislation that created the national intelligence director position and turned down the job before it was given to Negroponte.
Under Rumsfeld, the Defense Department's intelligence gathering and analysis activities have increased dramatically, as has overall government spending on intelligence. Rumsfeld also created the job of undersecretary of defense for intelligence in 2003 to coordinate all Pentagon activities. He gave the job to one of his top longtime aides, Stephen A. Cambone.
On Friday, the Pentagon announced that Cambone would be resigning at the end of the month. A Pentagon spokesman said that Gates had not requested Cambone's resignation.
Gates, whose confirmation hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee are to begin tomorrow, is expected to be questioned about Pentagon intelligence activities. In his responses to the committee's questionnaire, Gates said he did not believe the Defense Department's role was "fundamentally changed" with establishment of the national intelligence director. But he added that he wanted to see "how the program is working in actual practice."
Asked about an earlier article in which Gates had written that "for the last decade, intelligence authority has been quietly leaching from the CIA and to the Pentagon," Gates responded that it was "an area I would look into."