The Bush administration's choice last week of J. Michael McConnell to be director of national intelligence is a major blunder -- and not just because the man who will be overseeing 16 different spy agencies, including the CIA, took the job after a "personal approach" from an old friend named Dick Cheney.
The problem is with McConnell's résumé. At present, U.S. intelligence is more dependent on private contractors than it has ever been. About half of the rapidly expanding annual intelligence budget, or more than $20 billion, now goes to outside firms. The work those private contractors perform has been slammed repeatedly for mismanagement, privacy violations and bias -- and yet the would-be head of the nation's intelligence effort is a top executive at one of the worst offenders. McConnell, a retired vice admiral and former director of the National Security Agency, is the current director of defense programs at Booz Allen Hamilton