CBSN

First U.S. Intel Director Sworn In

President Bush stands witness to John Negroponte, right, being sworn in as the National Intelligence Director in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, April 21, 2005, in Washington.
AP
John Negroponte won easy approval by the Senate on Thursday to become the nation's first national intelligence director, a job created last year to better coordinate the nation's spy agencies following the Sept. 11 attacks and other intelligence blunders.

Within 45 minutes of his approval, Negroponte was sworn in at the White House by chief of staff Andrew Card as President Bush witnessed the ceremony. Negroponte will take over the task of giving Bush a daily briefing on intelligence matters, probably beginning next week, presidential spokesman Scott McClellan said.

Negroponte, 65, has called this his "most challenging assignment" in more than 40 years of government service. The Senate voted 98-2 to give the former Iraq ambassador the job.

He takes over an intelligence community that's been criticized in report after report for failures leading up to the attacks of Sept. 11, and for its prewar intelligence on Iraq.

"He's going to carry heavy burdens," said Senate Intelligence Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas. "I am convinced, however, that he has the character, that he has the expertise, and he has the leadership skills to successfully meet these challenges and shoulder these responsibilities."

Negroponte, whose approval by the committee and the full Senate are not in doubt, fended off Democratic suggestions that he may not be an impartial arbiter of intelligence. To make their point, Democrats turned to his record as ambassador to Honduras during the tumult in Latin American during the 1980s.

"The focus of the Senate nomination hearing for Ambassador Negroponte to be national intelligence chief was 'how to avoid another 9/11'" said CBS News Foreign Affairs Analyst Pamela Falk. "But Committee members took the opportunity during what was Negroponte's seventh set of confirmation hearings to cover almost two dozen issues including human intelligence, partisan analysis of information, the colossal failure of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) intelligence in Iraq to his time in Honduras."

Last summer, the independent Sept. 11 Commission called on Congress to create a single, powerful director to oversee all 15 agencies in the intelligence community. Congress approved the new post in December as part of the most significant overhaul since 1947.