McConnell Becomes Second Director of National Intelligence
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 20, 2007 As President Bush looked on, retired Navy Vice Adm. John M. “Mike” McConnell took the oath of office as the second director of national intelligence from White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten here today.
Speaking at the Bolling Air Force Base ceremony, Bush said McConnell will be “a great asset” to the U.S. national security team as he contributes his vast intelligence experience to “one of the most difficult and important positions in our government.”
“In this time of war -- and we are a nation at war -- the president and his national security team must have the best intelligence about the plans and purpose of the enemy, and the job of the director of national intelligence is to ensure that we do,” Bush said.
Bush cited the sweeping responsibilities McConnell will carry as the nation’s second director of national intelligence. He will be the president’s principal advisor on intelligence matters as he leads the entire U.S. intelligence community. He will advise Bush about the national intelligence budget, oversee the collection and analysis of intelligence information, and ensure that all U.S. intelligence agencies and offices work together as a single, unified enterprise.
“These are enormous challenges, and Mike McConnell has the experience and the character and the talent to meet them,” the president said.
McConnell served as director of the National Security Agency from 1992 to 1996 and as the chief intelligence advisor to Army Gen. Colin Powell, then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during Operation Desert Storm. Earlier in his career, he was executive assistant to the director of naval intelligence.
“Mike’s long experience gives him a unique understanding of the threats we face in this new century,” Bush said. “He knows that terrorists who struck America on September the 11th, 2001, are determined to strike our nation again. He understands that the enemy uses the tools of our modern economy -- from rapid transportation to instant communications to global finance -- to spread their extremist ideology and facilitate new attacks.”
As director of national intelligence, McConnell will work “to make certain that America stays ahead of this enemy and learns their intentions before they strike,” the president said. “He knows that we must stop them from harming our citizens (and) that the most important task of this government of ours is to protect the American people.”
Bush called establishment of the DNI position one of the most important reforms enacted in response to the Sept. 11 terror attacks. He praised the work of John Negroponte, the first DNI, and said McConnell will build on progress set into motion during Negroponte’s tenure.
Specifically, Bush said, he has asked McConnell to improve information sharing within the intelligence community, to step up its emphasis on language skills and cultural awareness, and to ensure that the acquisition community is investing in the right intelligence technologies.
“I’ve asked him to ensure that America has the dynamic intelligence collection and high-quality analysis that we need to protect our country and to win this war against these extremists and radicals,” he said.
Bush noted that McConnell will rely on thousands of dedicated intelligence professionals to carry out this charge. “They’re America’s first line of defense against the terrorists,” he said, acknowledging that for security reasons, many of their accomplishments remain unknown to the American people.
“I appreciate your willingness to take on the difficult and dangerous assignments,” the president told intelligence professionals gathered for McConnell’s swearing-in ceremony. “And you just need to know that you’ve got the full support of this government and the American people.”
McConnell joined Bush in praising members of the intelligence community for their commitment and professionalism and challenged them to continue serving the country as it confronts today’s threats.
“I would ask that we reflect on the service and sacrifices of those who went before and to provide the information and service so vital to the nation’s leadership,” McConnell said. “I know that you’re up to it.”