Sunday, May 07, 2006

Bush administration refuses to talk directly with its main foes

By Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel
Knight Ridder Newspapers
May. 04, 2006

WASHINGTON - Last month, the chief U.S. negotiator with North Korea wanted to meet privately with his North Korean counterpart, hoping he could persuade Pyongyang to return to talks on eliminating its nuclear weapons program.

But the meeting between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill and North Korean Vice Premier Kim Kye Gwan on the sidelines of a conference in Tokyo never took place.

Hill's superiors in Washington forbade him from talking directly to the North Koreans, said three U.S. officials, a conference participant and another knowledgeable expert. All requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The Bush administration also is refusing to talk directly with Iran about its nuclear program, with Syria about Middle East security and the infiltration of terrorists into Iraq, and, like Europe, with the Palestinian government led by Hamas, which it considers a terrorist organization.

This approach to diplomacy is drawing criticism.

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Spy Czar, Rumsfeld in a Turf War

By Doyle McManus and Peter Spiegel
Los Angeles Times
May 6, 2006

WASHINGTON — After a little more than a year in his newly created job, John D. Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, has won an initial battle to establish authority over the vast U.S. intelligence community — Porter J. Goss, who resisted Negroponte's moves to limit the autonomy of the CIA, is gone.

But Negroponte faces a larger and much more difficult challenge: a struggle with Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's Department of Defense, which runs more than 80% of the nation's intelligence budget and is busy expanding its role even further.

Negroponte's job is to coordinate the work of 16 intelligence agencies, including the CIA and the giant National Security Agency — which eavesdrops on international communications — as well as the Energy Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The post was created in 2005 in response to charges — made most tellingly by the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — that the federal government's intelligence effort was uncoordinated and needed central direction.

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