Bush Picks Negroponte as Intel Director

ByABC News
February 17, 2005, 9:28 AM

Feb. 17, 2005 — -- President Bush has tapped John Negroponte, U.S. ambassador to Iraq since June, as his nominee to become the nation's first national intelligence director.

If confirmed by the Senate, Negroponte, 65, would be charged with coordinating the activities of 15 U.S. intelligence agencies -- including the CIA -- in a position created in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Negroponte also would control the flow of spy information and the purse strings for intelligence.

In announcing Negroponte's nomination, Bush said the new director will be key in fighting terrorism.

"John's nomination comes at an historic moment for intelligence services," Bush said. "Intelligence is our first line of defense. We're going to stop the terrorists before they strike. We have to make sure our intelligence agencies work as a single, unified enterprise."

Negroponte, who previously served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations after 9/11, told Bush he was "honored that you will select me to be the first director of national intelligence."

"I appreciate your confidence in choosing me in what will undoubtedly be the most challenging assignment I have undertaken in more than 40 years of government service," Negroponte added.

Bush also nominated Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden to be Negroponte's deputy. Hayden has served as director of the National Security Agency since March 1999.

In announcing his choice, Bush added that Negroponte would be based outside the West Wing of the White House, but that "he will have access on a daily basis in that he'll be my primary briefer."

Bush signed the bill creating the position of national intelligence director on Dec. 17. White House spokesman Scott McClellan explained why the president took his time choosing a nominee.

"This is a position of critical importance and the president wanted to make sure he gets it right," McClellan said, according to The Associated Press. "This individual will have the full authority to do the job that needs to be done and will have the full confidence of the president of the United States."