President Bush named veteran diplomat John D. Negroponte to the new post of national intelligence chief.
BUSH: Thank you very much. I appreciate you coming here.
John Negroponte appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when he was named ambassador to Iraq.
(Larry Downing - Reuters File Photo)
I'm pleased to announce my decision to nominate Ambassador John Negroponte as director of national intelligence.
The director's responsibility is straightforward and demanding. John will make sure that those whose duty it is to defend America have the information they need to make the right decisions.
John understands America's global intelligence needs, because he spent the better part of his life in our Foreign Service, and is now serving with distinction in the sensitive post of our nation's first ambassador to a free Iraq.
John's nomination comes at an historic moment for our intelligence services.
In the war against terrorists who target innocent civilians and continue to seek weapons of mass murder, intelligence is our first line of defense.
If we're going to stop the terrorists before they strike, we must ensure that our intelligence agencies work as a single, unified enterprise.
And that's why I supported and Congress passed reform legislation creating the job of director of national intelligence.
As DNI, John will lead a unified intelligence community and will serve as the principal adviser to the president on intelligence matters.
BUSH: 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.
It will be John's responsibility to determine the annual budgets for all national intelligence agencies and offices and to direct how these funds are spent.
Vesting these in a single official who reports directly to me will make our intelligence efforts better coordinated, more efficient and more effective.
The director of the CIA will report to John. 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.
The law establishing John's position preserves the existing chain of command and leaves all our intelligence agencies, organizations and offices in their current departments. Our military commanders will continue to have quick access to the intelligence they need to achieve victory on the battlefield.
And the new structure will help ensure greater information sharing among federal departments and agencies and also with appropriate state and local authorities.
John brings a unique set of skills to these challenges.
Over the course of a long career, John Negroponte has served his nation in eight countries spanning three continents.
BUSH: He's held important leadership posts at both the State Department and the White House.
As my representative to the United Nations, John defended our interests vigorously. He spoke eloquently about America's intention to spread freedom and peace throughout the world.
And his service in Iraq during these past few historic months has given him something that will prove an incalculable advantage for an intelligence chief: an unvarnished and up-close look at a deadly enemy.
Today I'm pleased, as well, to announce that joining John as his deputy will be Lieutenant General Michael Hayden.
As a career Air Force intelligence officer, General Hayden now serves as director of the National Security Agency, America's largest intelligence service, and chief of the Central Security Service. In these critical roles, Mike has already demonstrated an ability to adapt our intelligence services to meet the new threats of a new century.
I appreciate the willingness of these men to take on these tough new assignments in an extraordinary moment in our nation's history.
I'd like to thank the thousands of men and women already serving in our intelligence services as people go to work each day to keep Americans safe. We live in a dangerous world and often times they take great risk to their own lives. These men and women are going to be pleased to have leaders such as Ambassador John Negroponte and General Mike Hayden.
John, I want to thank you for being here today. Congratulations. Godspeed.
NEGROPONTE: Thank you, Mr. President. I'm honored that you would select me to be the first director of national intelligence.
NEGROPONTE: Providing timely and objective national intelligence to you, the Congress, the departments and agencies, and to our uniformed military services, is a critical national task: critical to our international posture, critical to the prevention of international terrorism and critical to our 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.
If confirmed, I look forward to supporting you, Mr. President, in working to the best of my ability toward achievement of these objectives, so vital to the protection of our country.
I appreciate your confidence in choosing me for what will no doubt be the most challenging assignment I have undertaken in more than 40 years of government service.
Thank you very much.
BUSH: I'll be glad to take some questions.
QUESTION: Can you tell us if you believe that Syria is linked to the assassination of Mr. Hariri? And further, how willing are you to expel Syria from Lebanon and stop its involvement in Iraq?
BUSH: First, we support the international investigation that will be going on to determine the killers of Mr. Hariri.
We've recalled our ambassador, which indicates that the relationship is not moving forward; that Syria's out of step with the progress being made in the greater Middle East; that democracy is on the move, and this is a country that isn't moving with the democratic movement.
BUSH: We've talked clearly to Syria about, one, making sure that their territory's not used by former Iraqi Baathists to spread havoc and kill innocent lives.
We expect them to find and turn over former Saddam regime supporters and send them back to Iraq.
We've made it very clear from the beginning of my administration that Syria should not use its territory to support international terrorist groups. We expect them to adhered to U.N. Security Counsel Resolution 1559, which calls for the removal of troops from Lebanon. And we expect them to help free and fair elections to take place in Lebanon.