Reprinted from NewsMax.com
Negroponte'sExit Planned Ahead of Time
Thursday, Jan. 4,2007
WASHINGTON -- John Negroponte had been planning his exit asnational intelligence czar for the past four months, but agreed notto announce his plans until the White House could find a suitablereplacement, sources close to Negroponte told NewsMax inWashington.
NewsMax first learned of Negroponte's decision to resign as directorof National Intelligence at the end of September, but held the storybecause Negroponte and his office vigorously denied it.
Three separate sources said at that time that Negroponte had beentelling confidants and associates he was "unhappy" with the longhours and stresses of the job.
His two hour lunches at the University Club in downtown Washington,D.C. had become legendary.
"Negroponte made the same mistake Tenet made," a former seniorintelligence official stated. "He's become a member of the WhiteHouse team, making policy, not providing intelligence."
Some sources said he wanted to return to the State Department asdeputy to Condoleezza Rice, with the expectation that he wouldreplace Rice if she resigns later this year to run for president, asmany Republican Party insiders believe.
Others who worked with Negroponte said he was considering a move toNew York to take a top publishing job.
But when Negroponte's office was phoned in early October to askabout what Negroponte had planned, spokesman Chad Colton deniedrepeatedly that he was leaving.
"He is not going to resign. He is not planning to resign" Coltonsaid. "He definitely has told me he didn't want to go."
When Negroponte first floated his plans to leave his position, hesaid he would not announce his resignation until December 2006, wellafter the mid-term elections. "This is the normal process in thesecond year of the second term," one associate said. "People start toleave the administration."
One plan floated in late September had Negroponte going to State asRice's deputy, CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden replacing him asdirector of national Intelligence, and Hayden's deputy, StephenKappes, taking over at CIA.
But that plan was dropped because "Kappes is basicallyunconfirmable," congressional sources said.
Under the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004 that created thedirector of National Intelligence position, the deputy director ofCIA is no longer a Senate-confirmed position, so Kappes was able tobe appointed to his current position without a confirmationhearing.
But lingering controversies from his time as head of CIAcounterintelligence, as well as his stormy departure from the Agencyin November 2004 after Porter Goss took over the reins as CIAdirector, have generated such deep distrust of Kappes that keyRepublican senators told the administration they would not supporthis confirmation.
As director of National Intelligence, Negroponte created a brand newintelligence agency and expanded it more than five times larger thanCongress had initially intended.
"He surrounded himself with former State Department officials," oneadministration source said. "The [director of NationalIntelligence] looks like the State Department in miniature."
Negroponte gets credit for having led the U.S. intelligence communityduring a period when there were no major terrorist attacks onAmerican soil.
Asked earlier this year how he judged Negroponte's performance,former top intelligence official Richard Haver stated that it was tooearly to tell, but that Americans would be able to judge forthemselves if he failed.
"The answer will be if we get surprised again, if we are attacked.Because someone always knows in advance that an attack is going totake place. So if there are no more surprises, then either he is verylucky, or he's got it right."
Negroponte is widely believed to have engineered the sudden departureof Porter Goss as CIA director in May 2006.
"There was a deep, personal conflict between Goss and Negroponte thatwent back to their days at Yale," a former top CIA official said.
In the spring of 2006, Goss had been telling friends andassociates that he wanted to leave as director by the end of theyear, after the 2006 mid-term elections. When Negroponte learnedthat, he went to White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, who thenconfronted Goss and demanded that he resign on the spot, sourcessaid.
Kenneth R. Timmerman is president of the Middle East Data Project,author of "Countdown to Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown withIran," and a contributing editor to NewsMax.com.
© NewsMax 2007. All rights reserved.