Negroponte Selected As First National Intelligence Director

Thursday, February 17, 2005

President Bush named John Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, and a former Hoover Institution National Fellow, as the government's first national intelligence director Thursday, February 17, 2005.

Ending a nine-week search, Bush chose Negroponte for the difficult job of implementing the most sweeping intelligence overhaul in 50 years.

Negroponte, 65, is tasked with bringing together 15 highly competitive spy agencies, working with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, the brand new CIA Director Porter Goss, and other intelligence leaders. He'll oversee a covert intelligence budget estimated at $40 billion.

Negroponte, a former ambassador to the United Nations and to a number of countries, called the job his "most challenging assignment" in more than 40 years of government work.

He also was ambassador in Honduras from 1981 to 1985.

If confirmed by the Senate, as expected, Negroponte said he planned "reform of the intelligence community in ways designed to best meet the intelligence needs of the 21st century."

Bush signaled that he sees Negroponte as the man to steer his intelligence clearinghouse. "If we're going to stop the terrorists before they strike, we must ensure that our intelligence agencies work as a single, unified enterprise," Bush said.

Negroponte will have coveted time with the president during daily intelligence briefings and will have authority over the spy community's intelligence collection priorities. Perhaps most importantly, Bush made clear that Negroponte will set budgets for the national intelligence agencies.

—With Associated Press reports