Veteran former spy to take top intelligence slot

US president George Bush today nominated intelligence veteran, former National Security Agency Director Mike McConnell, to be the second US national intelligence director.

US president George Bush today nominated intelligence veteran, former National Security Agency Director Mike McConnell, to be the second US national intelligence director.

In a reshuffling of national security team, he also chose his former top spy, 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 today.

Speaking to the new Congress in Democratic control, he added, “I would hope that they would 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, defence secretary Robert Gates took over the Pentagon last month and is expected to bring in retired Lt Gen James Clapper as his under-secretary 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 organisational and geographic boundaries,” McConnell said, standing alongside Bush, Negroponte and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

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