Bush Nominates Negroponte as National Intelligence Boss
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2005 President Bush today nominated the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq to serve as the nation's first director of national intelligence.
Bush, speaking at the White House, said John D. Negroponte's service in Iraq "has given him something that will prove an incalculable advantage for an intelligence chief: an unvarnished and up-close look at a deadly enemy."
Bush also nominated Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden currently director of the National Security Agency as Negroponte's deputy. The Senate must approve both nominations.
Congress created the position last year. The bipartisan Sept. 11 Commission recommended the post. The director will oversee a unified intelligence community, and will serve as the principal advisor to the president on intelligence matters. He will have the authority to order the collection of new intelligence, to ensure the sharing of information among agencies and to establish common standards for the intelligence community's personnel, officials said.
The director will determine the annual budgets for all national intelligence agencies and offices. "Vesting these authorities in a single official who reports directly to me will make our intelligence efforts better coordinated, more efficient, and more effective," the president said during a news conference announcing the nomination.
The director of the Central Intelligence Agency comes under the purview of the director of national intelligence. But the CIA will retain its core of responsibilities for collecting human intelligence, analyzing intelligence from all sources and supporting American interests abroad at the direction of the president.
Military intelligence agencies will remain in the Defense Department. "Our military commanders will continue to have quick access to the intelligence they need to achieve victory on the battlefield," Bush said.
Negroponte thanked the president for the honor. He said providing timely and objective national intelligence is critical to America's international posture, to the prevention of international terrorism and to homeland security. "Equally important will be the reform of the intelligence community in ways designed to best meet the intelligence needs of the 21st century," he said.
Bush said that intelligence is America's first line of defense against terrorists who target innocent civilians and continue to seek weapons of mass murder. "If we're going to stop the terrorists before they strike, we must ensure that our intelligence agencies work as a single, unified enterprise," the president said.
The president said it will take some time to get the new processes in place, and that Negroponte is uniquely qualified to handle the assignment. "He's a diplomat," Bush said. "He understands the power centers in Washington. He's been a consumer of intelligence in the past, and so he's got a good feel for how to move this process forward in a way that addresses the different interests."
Negroponte served as a foreign-service officer, including four years in South Vietnam. His notable assignments include serving as ambassador to Honduras in the 1980s, serving on the National Security Council during President George H.W. Bush's administration and serving as the current president's ambassador to the United Nations.