Bush names McConnell to top spy job

President Bush nominated an intelligence veteran, former National Security Agency Director Mike McConnell, to be the country’s second national intelligence director. In a reshuffling of his national security team, Bush also chose his former top spymaster, John Negroponte, to be deputy secretary of state.

“Each of them will do good work in their new positions and it is vital that they take up their new responsibilities promptly,” Bush said on Friday.

Bush said he was confident that McConnell would “give me the best information and analysis that America’s intelligence community can provide.”

Negroponte called his new job “an opportunity of a lifetime.” McConnell said he looked forward to returning to the intelligence community.

Speaking to the new Congress in Democratic control, Bush said, “I would hope that Negroponte and McConnell will be confirmed as quickly as possible.”

The moves come as part of the White House effort to chart a new direction on Iraq and reshape Bush’s national security strategy with two years left in his presidency.

Part of the new course appears to be a renovation of Bush’s intelligence and national security team. In addition to Negroponte’s shift, Defense Secretary Robert Gates took over the Pentagon last month and is expected to bring in retired Lt. Gen. James Clapper as his undersecretary for intelligence.

If confirmed, McConnell said he looks forward to building on the accomplishments of Negroponte and his team, who have been in place just 20 months.

“Unlike just a decade ago, the threats of today and the future are moving at increasing speeds and across organizational and geographic boundaries,” McConnell said, standing alongside Bush, Negroponte and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Negroponte got his current intelligence job after the Sept. 11 Commission recommended in 2004 that Congress create a single official to coordinate all 16 spy agencies and avoid the mistakes made prior to the attacks of 2001. The prewar intelligence on Iraq only further tarnished the intelligence community’s reputation.

Negroponte sought to put those chapters behind the agencies he oversees. “I believe our intelligence community has embraced the challenge of functioning as a single unified enterprise and reaffirmed the fact that it is the best intelligence community in the world,” he said.

Negroponte predicted “wise stewardship and success” as his successor continues the reform efforts. “Admiral McConnell will continue to drive forward the reforms we have initiated,” he said.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press