Senate panel weighs nomination of Daniel Bennett Smith as State Dept.’s top intelligence official

Daniel Bennett Smith
Daniel Bennett Smith

At a confirmation hearing on January 28 to review his nomination to be the Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research, Daniel Bennett Smith assured the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) will continue to make its “unique analytical contribution” and will support the nation’s foreign policy objectives.

Smith, who recently served as Executive Secretary of the State Department and U.S. Ambassador to Greece, has been with the Department for about three decades.

“Throughout the course of my thirty years as a Foreign Service Officer, I have worked closely with members of the Intelligence Community, overseen and coordinated intelligence and law enforcement activities, and witnessed firsthand the role that intelligence and analysis can and should play in the formulation of foreign policy,” Smith told the assembled senators. “Like many of the professionals within INR, I also have a strong academic background and appreciate very much the importance of drawing on the insights and expertise found in our nation’s outstanding academic institutions, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector.”

The committee’s chairman, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), asked the nominee about the rotation of analysts who work at INR to and from other agencies within the Intelligence Community. Smith couldn’t provide an exact number of such employees, but noted that the Bureau has “a substantial number of such detailees.” He promised to provide the committee with more precise figures.

“INR is a unique and invaluable asset both to the Department of State and to the Intelligence Community, of which it is part,” observed Smith in his prepared testimony. “The Bureau has a long and celebrated history in providing information and in-depth, all-source analysis that have helped to guide our nation’s foreign policy. INR’s strong reputation derives not from the size of its staff or budget, but from the tremendous expertise and skills of its personnel. Indeed, the Bureau has some of the greatest regional and subject matter expertise anywhere in the U.S. Government. INR has approximately 200 analysts who have an average of thirteen years of government and non-governmental professional experience directly related to their current INR.”

To see a video of the confirmation hearing, click here.

The committee took no action on Smith’s nomination before Menendez adjourned the confirmation hearing.