Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet has tapped Robert L. Hutchings, a European specialist and author of a noted diplomatic history of the Cold War, to lead the National Intelligence Council, a body that analyzes long-term trends and chronic problems in the world for U.S. policymakers.

Hutchings, 56, has been at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs since 1997. He previously worked as a special adviser to Secretary of State James A. Baker III during the administration of President Geoge H.W. Bush. Under Baker, Hutchings helped direct a $1 billion U.S. assistance program for Eastern Europe.

From 1989 to 1992, he headed the European affairs division of the National Security Council, a position he earned after a stint at as an assistant national intelligence officer for Europe and deputy director of Radio Free Europe.

Asked yesterday what areas of concern he thought deserved the National Intelligence Council's highest priority, Hutchings named the European Union, China-U.S. relations, and political developments in the Islamic world. "I've always thought the EU is one of the big foreign policy issues to look at," Hutchings said.

With so much happening since Sept. 11, 2001, he said, "it's hard to keep your eye over the horizon," which is one of the intelligence council's main functions.

The council is made up of a chairman, vice chairman and 12 senior area experts from various intelligence agencies as well as academia and the private sector. They report to the director of central intelligence and coordinate intelligence estimates for the president.

The council also produces National Intelligence Estimates. These studies differ from other intelligence assessments because they include the range of views within all U.S. intelligence agencies and detail dissenting opinions. For that reason, policymakers in the administration and Congress consider intelligence estimates a crucial decision-making tool.

Hutchings is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and holds a PhD in government from the University of Virginia. He is the author of "American Diplomacy and the End of the Cold War: An Insider's Account of U.S. Policy in Europe, 1989-92."

Hutchings will assume the position, which lasts two years, in early 2003.