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John Negroponte Named United States' First National Intelligence Director

President Bush has named John Negroponte, a career diplomat, as the United States' first national intelligence director. VOA's Ernest Leong has the details.

President Bush introduced John Negroponte at a press conference.

"John will make sure that those whose duty it is to defend America have the information we need to make the right decisions," said President Bush

"Thank you, Mister President. I'm honored that you would select me to be the first Director of National Intelligence," answered Mr. Negroponte.

"That's why I selected John. He's a diplomat. He understands the -- and he's an experienced person. He understands the power centers in Washington. He's been a consumer of intelligence in the past," explained Mr. Bush

Mr. Negroponte is the current U.S. ambassador to Iraq, a position he's held since June. Prior to that, he was ambassador to the United Nations.

Mr. Negroponte was also ambassador to the Philippines, Mexico and Honduras. While serving in Honduras in the early '80s, he played a prominent role in U.S. assistance to the right-wing rebels known as the Contras in Nicaragua, a controversial move that later delayed confirmation to his U.N. post.

The 9-11 terrorist attacks were the impetus for legislation creating the job of intelligence director, to oversee U.S. intelligence gathering efforts. In the last year, the U.S. intelligence community has come under serious criticism from the September 11 commission for a lack of coordination on terrorists, and more recently, the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding faulty intelligence on pre-war Iraq.

If approved by the Senate, Mr. Negroponte would oversee 15 separate intelligence agencies, including the C.I.A.