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U.S. intelligence chief to switch jobs

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NEW: NBC reports Navy Adm. Mike McConnell to succeed John Negroponte
• Negroponte to replace Robert Zoellick as deputy secretary of state, source says
• Negroponte oversees nation's 16 spy agencies
• He's a career diplomat; will be Rice's No. 2
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- National Intelligence Director John Negroponte will resign to become deputy secretary of state, a government official said Wednesday night.

Negroponte took over in 2005 as the nation's first intelligence chief, responsible for overseeing all 16 U.S. spy agencies.

Congress established the post in late 2004 following a recommendation of the 9/11 commission, which reviewed intelligence miscues leading up to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Yet, it has been at times a struggle for Negroponte and his staff to bring all 16 spy agencies together under one umbrella.

He will return to his roots as a career diplomat to become the No. 2 to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the government official said.

The official said the timing of Negroponte's departure was uncertain but that it was expected soon. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because there has been no announcement of the move.

Negroponte, 67, played a key role before the war in Iraq as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. He then became ambassador to Baghdad before being named intelligence chief.

Now he is stepping down as President Bush develops a new strategy on Iraq.

Sources told CNN on Wednesday that Bush is likely to deliver his plan to Americans in a televised address Tuesday or Wednesday.

His move to replace Robert Zoellick at the State Department must be confirmed by the Senate.

Spokesmen for the Office of the National Intelligence Director and the White House declined to comment.

In an interview with C-SPAN last month, Negroponte indicated he wanted to stay on through the Bush administration.

Yet his answer to the question -- will he "stay with it for a while?" -- didn't close the door to a new assignment. Since last summer, it has been said he was interested in the vacancy at the State Department.

"In my own mind at least, I visualize staying with it through the end of this administration and, then I think, probably that'll be about the right time to pack it in," he told C-SPAN.

Zoellick resigned as Rice's deputy in July to take a position with Goldman Sachs investment banking firm. She is said to have approached several candidates for the plum assignment, going for months without any takers.

It was not immediately clear who would fill Negroponte's position. The job of his No. 2 has been vacant since Gen. Michael Hayden became the CIA director in May.

NBC News, which first reported Negroponte's resignation, said his likely successor is retired Adm. Mike McConnell, the director of the National Security Agency from 1992 to 1996.

McConnell is now a senior vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton, a government contractor and consulting agency.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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John Negroponte, a career diplomat, has been the national intelligence director since the position was created in 2005.

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