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Just 45 minutes after winning easy Senate approval, the incoming national intelligence director, John Negroponte, walked into the Oval Office to be sworn in.

The unusually quick White House ceremony Thursday means Negroponte has officially taken over the task of overseeing the 15 independent agencies that make up the intelligence community. Congress created the job last year to better coordinate U.S. spy agencies following the Sept. 11 attacks and the botched prewar intelligence on Iraq.

President Bush said Negroponte "will lead a unified intelligence community as it reforms and adapts to the new challenges of the 21st century." Confirmed by a 98-2 vote of the Senate, Negroponte said it promised to be the most challenging job of his 40 years in government.

The Senate unanimously approved the nomination of Negroponte's deputy, Michael Hayden, former head of the National Security Agency. He could be sworn in as soon as today.

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