National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, one of President Bush's closest counselors, will be nominated to replace Colin Powell as secretary of state, ABC News has learned.
Senior administration sources confirmed that Rice would be Bush's choice and that Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley will replace Rice as national security adviser. Sources told ABC News that Bush would make a formal announcement around midday today.
The news of Rice's nomination came Monday, hours after the White House announced Powell had submitted his resignation.
The retired four-star general was known for his moderate views and for reportedly clashing with members of the administration on the issue of Iraq. Even so, it was Powell who went before the United Nations in February 2003 to make a case for the U.S.-led invasion.
But as Powell made appearances before reporters and television cameras to announce his departure today, there were rumblings that he had been forced out — rumblings the White House denies.
"He came to a decision," said White House press secretary Scott McClellan. "It was his decision to resign and he made that decision."
But some conservatives, who saw Powell as too moderate for the president's foreign policies, saw this as a positive move.
"The president may for the first time in his presidency have someone at the helm of the State Department who actively and consistently supports his policy," said Frank J. Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy.
If Rice's appointment is confirmed by the Senate, she will take over the job of international diplomat during a war that has divided the nation and the world.
Rice has loyally defended the Bush administration's track record on the military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as its handling of intelligence before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Testifying under oath before the 9/11 Commission, Rice maintained there was no "silver bullet" that could have prevented the worst terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.
Rice, 50, was the first female U.S. national security adviser. She would be only the second woman and second black to be appointed secretary of state.
Born and raised in segregated Birmingham, Ala., Rice was the child of two educators. After her father took a job in Denver, Rice decided to take college courses while still in high school. She was 19 when she graduated from the University of Denver.
Although she was initially interested in music, Rice began studying the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. She earned her master's degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1975 and received her doctorate from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver in 1981. She began teaching at Stanford University, where she would later serve six years as provost.
In 1989, the first President Bush's national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, helped convince Rice to leave Stanford and work for him in Washington. She quickly became one of Bush's most trusted advisers. From 1989 through March 1991, the period of German reunification and the final days of the Soviet Union, she served in the first Bush administration as director and then senior director of Soviet and East European Affairs in the National Security Council, and a special assistant to the president for national security affairs.
The man replacing Rice, Stephen Hadley, has been assistant to the president and the national security adviser since January 2001.
A lawyer, Hadley is a long-time adviser to Bush. During his first presidential campaign, he served as a senior foreign and defense policy adviser.