WASHINGTON -- After years of finger-pointing and tension within his foreign policy agencies, President Bush is moving aggressively to tame the two most unwieldy agencies -- the CIA and the State Department -- by installing reliable allies at the helm with instructions to clamp down on dissenting career officials, advisers to the president said.
In tapping a close personal adviser, Condoleezza Rice, to become secretary of state yesterday, Bush continued his recent pattern of rewarding loyal friends with important posts -- even if it means bypassing more seasoned veterans with strong resumes. Last week, Bush made a similar move in his choice for attorney general, turning to his personal attorney in the White House, Alberto Gonzales.
But Bush had a second, and perhaps more important, goal in mind with the selection of Rice, the advisers said: bringing to heel the rebellious voices within the foreign service establishment, especially among second- and third-tier appointees who actually implement policy. The move mirrored his decision to pick former representative Porter Goss of Florida as head of the Central Intelligence Agency, a choice followed by upheaval as Goss has begun cleaning house at the spy agency.
''The president was confronted with something like mutiny at State and CIA, and Condi Rice and Porter Goss have been dispatched to these two agencies to put them back to work," said David Frum, a former Bush administration speechwriter.
''This was aimed at the 'level threes and level fours,' as Bush calls them," another former senior Bush administration official said, referring to the lower-level advisers the president hopes to silence during his second term.
''There was extreme frustration with State and CIA, but it was not really with the principals themselves," the former official said, adding that for all of Bush's disagreements with outgoing Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, it was Powell's disgruntled underlings who threw up the greatest roadblocks by leaking their disagreements, especially over Iraq, to the press.
Five senior intelligence officials, including Deputy Director John McLaughlin, have quit the CIA in the last week, and a State Department spokesman confirmed yesterday that Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of state and a close friend of Powell's, will depart along with the secretary of state once Rice is confirmed and assumes the job.
In a move to further consolidate control over the foreign policy management team, Rice will be succeeded as national security adviser by Steven Hadley, her deputy in the post over the past four years, who is closely aligned with Defense Department neoconservatives, officials said.
''You are going to have people of one mind, which is what the president wants. Hadley is very close to Rumsfeld in his viewpoint," said Cliff Kupchan, vice president of the Nixon Center, a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute, who also served as a senior official in Asian affairs at the State Department under President Clinton.
The shift could add consistency to a sometimes uneven message: The Rice-Hadley lineup is expected to bring new clarity to the administration's policy on the Middle East and Iraq, eliminating any mixed signals between State and the White House and preventing stray factions from sending confusing messages to foreign governments about the president's intent to work on the Arab-Israeli peace process.
Hadley also enjoys close ties to Vice President Dick Cheney, who, White House advisers say, remains the power center of the foreign-policy team.
Powell, whenever he flew to the Middle East, ''had to get back home to fight Rumsfeld," a former White House official said, and foreign governments were never sure how fully Powell spoke on behalf of Bush -- a problem Rice will almost certainly avoid.
The broader effect of the Cabinet maneuvers, Bush supporters and critics agreed, will be to bring all agencies tasked with managing foreign policy in line with the White House during the second term, a period when Bush intends to forge his long-range legacy by aggressively pushing democratic aims in the Arab world. ''They're gathering all the reins of foreign policy together," said former CIA official Vincent Cannistraro, who strongly disagrees with the way Bush has handled Iraq. ''Clearly, it has a very strong message about the conduct of foreign policy in the next four years. Dissenting views of an aggressive foreign policy have been eliminated, and it is a victory for the hardliners, the neoconservatives."
Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, agreed, saying Bush is seeking ''even more personal loyalty and commitment to his policies than in the first term," setting the stage for the most unified foreign policy team since Henry Kissinger served as both secretary of state and national security adviser during the last year of the Nixon administration and the first year of Gerald Ford's presidency.
''Presidents want to have this kind of control and loyalty, but I can't recall any president really going as far as this one has in ensuring it," Gelb said.
Across the board, foreign policy analysts warned that some of the most important decisions have yet to be made -- about who will serve as deputy and assistant secretaries of state, the positions that, filled by career officers, have vexed Bush loyalists in the past. Important posts to watch at the National Security Council include the vacancy Hadley leaves, as well as the council's director for the Near East.
At the State Department, Rice enters a somewhat contentious environment, surrounded by career officers on whom she must depend to accomplish the work of the department, even as she demands a greater adherence to the administration's line, advisers said. Rice yesterday was judicious in her comments about the foreign-service officers who largely make up her new department, saying: ''In my 25 years of experience in foreign affairs, both in and out of government, I have come to know the men and women of the Department of State. I have the utmost admiration and respect for their skills, their professionalism, and their dedication."
On a separate but parallel track, Congress is also trying, at the behest of Bush, to reconcile two differing versions of an intelligence overhaul bill that would create a national intelligence director to oversee more than a dozen different intelligence agencies. The Senate and House negotiators on the bill have not reached a compromise; they will have to begin anew in January if their efforts fail this week. If the restructuring occurs, greater power could accrue to Goss: White House officials have said he is a likely candidate to be national intelligence director if the post is created.