"John Michael McConnell, the retired vice admiral slated to become America's new top spy, [has some] longtime associations [which] may cause him headaches during Senate confirmation hearings," Newsweek.com notes."One such tie is with another former Navy admiral, John Poindexter, the Iran-contra figure who started the controversial 'Total Information Awareness' program at the Pentagon in 2002."
The international consultancy that McConnell has worked at for a decade as a senior vice president, Booz Allen Hamilton, won contracts worth $63 million on the TIA "data-mining" program, which was later cancelled [kinda sorta -- ed.] after congressional Democrats raised questions about invasion of privacy... While his role in the TIA program is unlikely to derail McConnell's nomination, spokespeople for some leading Democratic senators such as Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Ron Wyden of Oregon say it will be examined carefully.McConnell was a key figure in making Booz Allen, along with Science Applications International Corp., the prime contractor on the project, according to officials in the intelligence community and at Booz Allen who would discuss contracts for data mining only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. "I think Poindexter probably respected Mike and probably entrusted the TIA program to him as a result," said a longtime associate of McConnell's who worked at NSA with him...Intel experts agree that McConnell will need all the good will he can get from the intelligence and defense communities. "It's a good appointment for a bad office," says John Arquilla, who teaches intelligence at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. "The directorate of national intelligence should not exist. It's very redundant." Insiders say Negroponte was frustrated by his lack of budgeting control over Pentagon intelligence, and the resistance of the CIA to his direction since his office was created in 2004 as part of the Bush administration's post-9/11 reforms.And by the way, Rutty asks in the comments (I'm paraphrasing heavily here): What was McConnell's role in Echelon -- the NSA's massive information sweeper, which got some much attention during the Clinton years? (The project had been around for decades, remember.)