Negroponte Would Stress Reform; Senate Panel Queries Nominee for National Intelligence Post

Article excerpt

Byline: Bill Gertz, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The career diplomat nominated to the new post of director of national intelligence told the Senate yesterday he would make reforming spy agencies a major priority.

John D. Negroponte, an ambassador with more than 40 years of diplomatic experience, was questioned for about three hours by members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on past intelligence failures, including the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and poor estimates of Iraq's programs to develop weapons of mass destruction.

"In the past four years, our homeland has been attacked, and we have miscalculated the arsenal, if not the intent, of a dangerous adversary," Mr. Negroponte said. "Our intelligence effort has to generate better results."

Mr. Negroponte said he would seek to impose "fundamental change" to improve coordination among the 15 agencies that comprise the U.S. intelligence community.

He also said his reforms would include closer trust and cooperation among spies and analysts, and "breaking down bureaucratic barriers, establishing priorities, both short term and strategic, and sticking to them."

"We cannot let another decade tick away without making intelligence reform a reality," he said.

Mr. Negroponte, a former ambassador to the United Nations and most recently ambassador to Iraq, said he was surprised by the lack of supporting intelligence for Iraq's weapons program. He said he "believed most of the intelligence" presented on the subject.

He added that he is reviewing what changes to adopt from recommendations of the report of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction and that he would work with the Justice Department, FBI and Homeland Security Department to better coordinate intelligence programs. …