We Are Devo: Bush Picks New Flunky to Fan War and Tyranny

The excellent Larisa Alexandrova at Raw Story has the raw story behind the exit of John "Death Squad" Negroponte from the intelligence throne and his replacement by corporate/covert apparatchik Michael McConnell. It seems that ol' "Death Squad" is not bloodthirsty or devious enough for Dick Cheney, who is orchestrating an Iraq-style "mendacity shop" to manipulate and manufacture intelligence in support of a military strike on Iran.

(Oh by the way, there's going to be a nuclear war there by the end of the year, the Sunday Times reports. Just thought you'd like to know, so you can get an early start on planning your family's survival during the ensuing fifty years of hellish blowback.)

Negroponte is also reportedly reluctant to give in to Bush and Cheney's relentless push for ever-more domestic surveillance. (For example, Attorney General Alberto "The Enabler" Gonzales is now pushing a law to force internet service providers to retain records of every single web site you visit. Coupled with Bush's recent backdoor move granting himself the right to open your mail without a warrant any damn time he pleases -- not to mention the "national security letters" (the arbitrary writs that allow the FBI to  grab private records of people -- not just terrorist suspects -- without a warrant or any oversight whatsoever), the warrantless wiretapping and many other measures, known and not yet known -- the appointment of McConnell, whose company handled some of Bush's "outsourced" snooping, takes on a more sinister light.

But how could it be otherwise? Just as Bush himself is a stunning exemplar of devolution in action, so too do all his appointments represent an ever-descending level of quality. No matter how bad things get with Bush, it seems there's always something even worse around the bend. Or as Dylan sang: "When you think that you've lost everything,/You find out you can always lose a little more."

Excerpts from Raw Story:
The nomination of retired Vice Admiral John Michael "Mike" McConnell to be Director of National Intelligence is part of an effort by the Vice President to tighten the Administration’s grip on domestic intelligence and grease the wheels for a more aggressive stance towards Iran, current and former intelligence officials believe.

If confirmed, McConnell will replace current National Intelligence Director John Negroponte, who was tapped Friday to become Deputy Secretary of State under Secretary Condoleezza Rice. According to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, Negroponte’s exit followed a lengthy internal administration battle between the Office of the Vice President and the two-year-old Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

According to officials close to both men, two issues surround Negroponte’s departure and McConnell’s nomination: a forthcoming National Intelligence Estimate on Iran – which the White House could use to buttress a case for military force – and pressure from the Vice President to augment domestic surveillance. Negroponte had resisted both efforts. Tensions soared after Negroponte made a public statement last year that countered the administration position that Iran was an immediate threat and that its alleged nuclear weapons program was in an advanced stage...

“McConnell will go along with whatever [Cheney tells him to do] and make sure that no objective NIE comes out,” one former senior intelligence officer said...

All of the officials RAW STORY spoke with had reservations about Vice Admiral McConnell. In a call Friday, President Reagan’s Director of Intelligence Programs for the National Security Council from 1984-1987 and Chief of Operations and Analysis at the Central CIA's Counterterrorism Center under President Bush Sr. Vincent Cannistraro called the nomination “a disaster.”

Others said McConnell would follow the White House's direction. “McConnell’s not an effective manager,” said former CIA officer Larry Johnson. “He will be likely to acquiesce to White House pressure on issues.” Johnson called McConnell “Rummyesque.”

Parts of an earlier Iran Intelligence Estimate were leaked to the Washington Post in 2005. These excerpts asserted that Iran was at least ten years away from possessing any significant nuclear enrichment capability and contrasted sharply with White House estimates, which had warned Iran could mount a full-scale attack in 3-5 years....

Negroponte defended the published findings, attempting to push back against pressure from the Vice President’s office, and maintained his opposition to military action against Iran. By March 2006, however, the Department of Defense – on orders from the Vice President’s Office – had created the Iranian Directorate, which was largely a recreation of the notorious Office of Special Plans. The Office of Special Plans operated in the build-up to the Iraq war and is believed by most experts to have been the conduit through which pre-Iraq war intelligence was allegedly manipulated, if not cooked outright...

The other key area of concern for the intelligence community in McConnell’s nomination is the Executive Branch’s attempt to expand domestic surveillance programs, especially those conducted by the National Security Agency.

Current and former intelligence officials say that Negroponte and his staff were not comfortable with the level of domestic surveillance or the use of NSA wiretaps that were being pushed by the White House.

“[The office of the Vice President] could not get Negroponte to do anything with NSA and domestic surveillance,” said one former senior intelligence official. “McConnell worked with Cheney during the Gulf War. He is not competent, but he is someone they can control,” the official added...