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Negroponte Makes the Most of His Post as Minister Without Portfolio
By Jeff Stein, CQ Staff
On many a workday lunchtime, the nominal boss of U.S. intelligence, John D. Negroponte, can be found at a private club in downtown Washington, getting a massage, taking a swim, and having lunch, followed by a good cigar and a perusal of the daily papers in the club‚Äôs library.
‚ÄúHe spends three hours there [every] Monday through Friday,‚ÄĚ gripes a senior counterterrorism official, noting that the former ambassador has a security detail sitting outside all that time in chase cars. Others say they‚Äôve seen the Director of National Intelligence at the University Club, a 100-year-old mansion-like redoubt of dark oak panels and high ceilings a few blocks from the White House, only ‚Äúseveral‚ÄĚ times a week.
Surely Negroponte needs a comfort zone, forced as he is to spends hours in the witness chair in front of congressional committees, fielding hot potatoes on subjects over which he has no control ‚ÄĒ the NSA‚Äôs warrantless surveillance, domestic spying by secret military intelligence units, paying newspapers in Iraq to run pro-U.S. stories.
Lacking control must be a new experience for Negroponte. In the 1980s he was ambassador to Honduras, base camp for U.S.-backed attacks on left-wing Nicaragua. More recently, he was the U.S. proconsul in Baghdad. Negroponte‚Äôs reputation as a very demanding boss, in fact, preceded him to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), where aides fretted at the prospect of 15-hour days and memos thrown back in their faces by this disciple of Henry A. Kissinger.
ďWe like to say that dependability is more important than ability,Ē Bill Belichickism....
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