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Ms. Staubach is currently a vice president at Booz Allen involved in “the NRO market,” according to the company’s Web site.

The director of national intelligence (DNI), retired Navy Vice Adm. Michael McConnell, also worked for Booz Allen before taking his position, and former NRO Director Keith Hall works for Booz Allen.

“When everyone asked the question, how will Mike McConnell’s association with Booz Allen affect how he makes decisions, it’s apparent that he is demonstrating loyalty to his former company,” said one intelligence source who is skeptical of Ms. Staubach’s leadership skills.

Ms. Staubach is a 33-year CIA veteran who spent 15 years on detail to NRO. From August 2001 to July 2003, she was director of NRO’s Imagery Systems Acquisitions and Operations and in charge of buying and operating classified spy satellites. That post put her in charge of budgeting billions of dollars in satellite programs.

The NRO director post is open as a result of the current Director Richard Kerr’s appointment as deputy director of national intelligence.

Ellen Cioccio, a spokeswoman for Mr. McConnell, said Mr. Kerr remains at NRO and thus “it would be premature to comment on a replacement” while the Senate considers his nomination.

“That said, when and if a new NRO director is appointed, he or she will be appointed by the secretary of defense with the concurrence of the DNI” as required by intelligence reform law, she said.

Iraq situation report

A senior military officer posted in Baghdad said in an interview that some progress is being made in talks between a special subcommittee of U.S., Iraqi and Iranian officials aimed at stopping Tehran’s backing for insurgents and terrorists.

“The key point is that we are talking and that we are working all venues from diplomatic and military within Iraq to counter the external influences of foreign fighters coming into Iraq,” the officer said.

This third round of talks was held Monday in Baghdad.

On the surge efforts, the officer said, U.S. and allied forces have “pretty much cleared Baqouba” of insurgents. The city, located about 30 miles northeast of Baghdad just outside the notorious Sunni Triangle, was once among the most dangerous terrorist and insurgent operating zones.

“Food and other essential services are flowing in via Iraqi convoys,” the officer said. “We are working with the city council and provincial authorities to get other things moving as far as water, power and all the other reconstruction efforts now that the city has been cleared out.”

Marines in northeast Anbar province are continuing to go after al Qaeda terrorists near Lake Thar, the officer said. “We are going to try and drive a stake in the heart of al Qaeda in Iraq there as they have been using that area as a staging area to launch attacks against Baghdad,” the officers said.

Military operations against insurgents in Arab Jabour, at the southern belt of Baghdad, also are going well. “The Sunni sheiks are now supporting our efforts and recruiting for the [Iraqi Security Forces] and local neighborhood watch is going on,” the officer said.

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