MARGARET WARNER: President Bush sprang a surprise this morning, when he named veteran diplomat John Negroponte as the first director of national intelligence.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: 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 NEGROPONTE: 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.
MARGARET WARNER: Those 40 years have included some high-profile assignments. As U.S. Ambassador to Honduras in the early '80s, he helped carry out the Reagan administration's covert strategy to crush the Sandinista government in neighboring Nicaragua.
He went on to be deputy national security advisor to Colin Powell, ambassador to Mexico, and ambassador to the Philippines. After 9/11, he became U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, a tough post during the contentious run-up to the Iraq war.
Last summer, he was named ambassador to Iraq. His new post was a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, designed to end the turf wars and miscommunication that plagued U.S. Intelligence before the 9/11 attacks.
As Director of National Intelligence, or DNI, Negroponte will report directly to the president and coordinate the work of the nation's 15 intelligence agencies, including the CIA and several in the Defense Department. Today, reporters pressed the president on how much authority Negroponte would actually have, particularly over the $40 billion intelligence budget.
JOHN COCHRAN, ABC News: In this town, power is often measured in a couple of ways: By who controls the money and how close that person is to the president, sometimes physically. So let me ask you about that.
You said that Mr. Negroponte will determine the budgets for all intelligence agencies. A lot of people feel the Pentagon is going to fight that, that the Pentagon wants to control its intelligence money. Would you address that? And also, where is Mr. Negroponte going to work?
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I think your assessment's right. You know, people that can control the money, people that have got access to the president generally have a lot of influence. And that's why John Negroponte is going to have a lot of influence.
He will set the budgets. Listen, this is going to take a while to get a new culture in place, a different way of approaching the budget process. 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.
And so he's got a good feel for how to move this process forward in a way that addresses the different interests. Now, as to where he offices, you know, I don't know. It's not going to be in the White House.
Nevertheless, he will have access on a daily basis in that he'll be my primary briefer. In other words, when the intelligence briefings start in the morning, John will be there. And John and I will work to determine how much exposure the CIA will have in the Oval Office. I would hope more rather than less.
John and I both know that change can be unsettling. And so therefore, I'm sure there's some people out there wondering right now what this means for their jobs and the influence of a particular agency into the White House.
And the answer is everybody will be given fair access and everybody's ideas will be given a chance to make it to John's office. And if he thinks it's appropriate I see it, I'll see it. And if he thinks it's a waste of my time, I won't see it.
MARGARET WARNER: Negroponte now awaits Senate confirmation.