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Bush Names New Intelligence Chief

U.S. President George Bush has nominated a new director of national intelligence as he continues to shake-up senior staff with a new deputy secretary of state. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

President Bush wants the current intelligence chief, John Negroponte, to move to the State Department while putting retired vice admiral Mike McConnell atop the nation's intelligence community.

Both moves require confirmation from the Senate led by the opposition Democratic Party.

The changes come less than a week before the president says he will announce a new way forward in the war in Iraq. Negroponte has served as the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad and the United Nations. President Bush says he will play a key role in shaping American foreign policy.

"John Negroponte's broad experience, sound judgment, and expertise on Iraq and in the war on terror make him a superb choice as deputy secretary of state, and I look forward to working with him in this new post," said Mr. Bush.

The move returns Negroponte to the State Department where he began his career as a junior foreign service officer in 1960. If confirmed, he says he looks forward to supporting Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as she leads thousands of Americans and foreign nationals at more than 270 posts abroad.

"Whether in Baghdad, Kabul, Kosovo, or elsewhere these dedicated professionals are on the front line of advancing America's commitment to freedom," he said.

Negroponte served less than 2 years as the first director of national intelligence (DNI), a position created following the terrorist attacks of 2001 to better integrate America's 16 civilian and military intelligence communities.

President Bush wants to replace him with a Navy veteran who is a former director of the National Security Agency and the top intelligence officer to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"The vigilance of the DNI helps keep the American people safe from harm," he said. "Admiral Mike McConnell has the experience, the intellect, and the character to succeed in this position."

McConnell has worked the last ten years in the private sector as a security consultant; something he says will help him serve those in government who depend on sound intelligence.

"I understand these people rely on timely and useful intelligence everyday," he said. "After spending most of my adult life in the intelligence community focused on getting the right information to the right decision maker in the right time and format, I'm excited about returning."

It is the latest in a series of changes for the president following his dismissal of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was widely criticized for the conduct of the war in Iraq.