Thursday, January 04, 2007

Downward spin?

I wondered about Mr. Negroponte's move as DNI to deputy secretary at DOS. I thought perhaps it was a step down; sounds like I might have thought right:
Washington is not a town that finds downward mobility easy to understand. The news that John Negroponte will leave his post as the first Director of National Intelligence to take up the lower-ranking job of deputy to Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State, has provoked a storm of speculation.
A storm? That's strong. Bronwen Maddox goes on to say,
The weakest conjecture is that this means that the State Department’s fortunes are rising as policy on Iraq shifts from the military to the diplomatic. There is a bit of truth in that, but it is easily overstated; Rice herself has struggled to have a discernible voice in the cacophony of suggestions about how the US should get out of its predicament.

The stronger one is that the White House’s plan to pull all the intelligence agencies together is in a mess. Negroponte, a lifelong diplomat, may have been prompted only by a desire to return to his old patch, but he has picked a good time to leave a job that often seemed barely worth the name.
Hmm... Time magazine asks, "Is it a loss for intelligence or a gain at State?"

Perhaps it's as simple at Mr. Negroponte wanting to return to where he's most comfortable; it would be like going home. I'm just wondering if there's more to it.

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