- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 30, 2006

Former CIA spy hunter Paul Redmond, who helped catch notorious Moscow mole Aldrich Ames, has withdrawn from consideration to become the Bush administration’s top counterspy, U.S. intelligence officials say.

Mr. Redmond had been selected to be national counterintelligence executive, but backed out after the FBI held up his formal appointment by conducting a lengthy background investigation, said officials speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Carl Kropf, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), declined to comment.

“The selection process for the national counterintelligence executive is under way,” Mr. Kropf said. “Until a final selection is made, we decline to discuss the status of any individual currently under consideration for this important position.”

Mr. Redmond could not be reached for comment. In addition to uncovering Ames in 1993, Mr. Redmond conducted the damage assessment into the case of FBI counterintelligence agent Robert Hanssen, who spied for Moscow for 16 years before his 2001 arrest.

The national counterintelligence post and the deputy position in what is called NCIX remain vacant following the resignations of Michelle Van Cleave in January and Ken deGraffenreid a month earlier.

The office was recently placed under DNI John D. Negroponte as part of intelligence reform efforts, setting off a dispute over the role of counterintelligence.

President Bush signed an executive order in March 2005 calling for aggressive, offensive counterintelligence activities against foreign spies.

However, intelligence officials under Mr. Negroponte, including DNI Mission Manager for Collection Mary Margaret Graham, are opposing the new policy and instead favor making counterintelligence a passive support function for U.S. spying.

Counterspy posts at the CIA and FBI also remain vacant or held by acting officials at a time when foreign spying continues to plague the administration.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III told a congressional committee earlier this week that Chinese spying is a “major threat” to the United States.

A Pentagon report on the Iraq war made public March 24 highlighted Russian spying against the U.S. military and its military facility in Doha, Qatar. The report said documents obtained in Iraq showed that Russian intelligence passed U.S. war plans and other operational military data to Saddam Hussein’s forces before the war.

The disclosure so far has not led to an investigation.

Asked about the Russian spying, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters Tuesday that he was not informed about it before its publication in the Iraq war report. “It certainly would be something that one would look into,” he said.

A spokesman for the U.S. Central Command said yesterday that there were no immediate plans to conduct an investigation into the documents related to the compromise at Doha.

A Pentagon spokesman also had no immediate comment.

The muted response to the Russian spying report contrasts sharply with other statements by Mr. Rumsfeld and CIA Director Porter J. Goss. Both have denounced intelligence disclosures to the press as undermining U.S. national security.

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