President-elect Barack Obama this morning introduced his high-powered national security team, a lineup that includes a former rival, a key campaign adviser, and a holdover from the Bush administration, among others.
The most-dissected pick is Senator Hillary Clinton, who battled Obama for the Democratic nomination, as secretary of state. Susan Rice, Obama's voice on foreign affairs during the long campaign, is to be ambassador to the United Nations. Robert M. Gates, nominated by President Bush in late 2006, will stay on as defense secretary.
The other appointments are former NATO commander James L. Jones as national security adviser, former Clinton administration official Eric Holder as attorney general, and Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano as homeland security secretary.
"The national security challenges we face are just as great and as urgent as our economic crisis," Obama said, his picks arrayed behind him on stage in Chicago.
He cited terrorism, including last week's attacks in Mumbai; the spread of nuclear weapons; and dependence on foreign oil from unfriendly regimes.
America's destiny is shared with the world's, he declared.
"In this uncertain world, the time has come for a new beginning -- a new dawn of American leadership to overcome the challenges of the 21st century, and to seize the opportunities embedded in those challenges.... To succeed, we must pursue a new strategy that skillfully uses, balances, and integrates all elements of American power: our military and diplomacy; our intelligence and law enforcement; our economy and the power of our moral example. The team that we have assembled here today is uniquely suited to do just that....They share my pragmatism about the use of power, and my sense of purpose about America’s role as a leader in the world," Obama said.
He said that Clinton "will have my complete confidence" and described her as a symbol of his seriousness of renewing diplomacy.
Clinton pledged to give "her all" to the job. "Leaving the Senate is very difficult for me," she said, but said she had thought about US troops serving abroad and all the threats facing the country and decided that the best way to serve the nation was as its top diplomat.
Obama's election, she said, showed that Americans not only want a new direction at home, but a new approach abroad to create more allies and fewer adversaries.
Former President Bill Clinton issued a statement: "As an American, I am thankful that President-elect Barack Obama has asked Hillary to be Secretary of State and that she has accepted. As her husband, I am deeply proud.
Obama said Gates will provide continuity and pragmatism as the nation fights wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but will also be given a new mission -- to withdraw from Iraq responsibly.
Gates said he had a "profound responsibility" to the military and was honored to continue in the job.
During the campaign, Obama's capacity to be commander in chief was more in question than his readiness to take on domestic issues.
Asked how his team will not be fractious, Obama said many of them have worked together before. They would not have agreed to join his administration -- and he would not have asked -- unless they shared a "core vision" for America's role in the world, he said.
"Now is the time to regain America's leadership in all its dimensions," he said.
He also said he welcomes "vigorous debate" in the White House, saying he wants to avoid "group-think" where everybody agrees with everything.
"I will be setting policy as president," Obama said. "....As Harry Truman said, 'The buck will stop with me.' "
After having announced his economic team last week, Obama has now picked more than half of his 15-person cabinet less than a month after his historic election -- a faster pace than recent new presidents that should enable him to get a quick start when he takes office Jan. 20.
The Obama transition office's biographies of the appointments are below:
Senator Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State
Over nearly four decades in public service, as an attorney, First Lady, Senator, and presidential candidate, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has become one of the nation's foremost champions for children and families and advocates for women's rights and human rights. During the Clinton Administration, she transformed the role of First Lady, fighting for universal health care and helping to lead successful bipartisan efforts to improve the adoption and foster care systems, reduce teen pregnancy, and provide health care to millions of children through the Children’s Health Insurance Program. As a representative of the United States, she championed American interests as well as the rights of women and girls in more than eighty countries around the world. In November 2000, Senator Clinton became the first First Lady elected to public office and the first woman elected independently in New York State; she has since won reelection. In the Senate, she has continued to advocate for equal access to health care, education, and economic opportunity for women and girls around the world. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Clinton has fought for and secured in law improved health care for members of the National Guard and Reserves and worked to bring our troops home safely and responsibly from Iraq. She also serves as the only Senate member of the Transformation Advisory Group to the Joint Forces Command, working to modernize our military. And Senator Clinton has continued to fight for quality, affordable health care for every American, working to strengthen the Children’s Health Insurance Program and expand the use of health information technology. Most recently, as a groundbreaking candidate for President of the United States, Senator Clinton became the first woman ever to win a presidential primary, receiving more than 18 million votes as an advocate for working families and a voice for millions of Americans who have felt invisible to their government.
Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense
Dr. Robert M. Gates was sworn in on December 18, 2006, as the 22nd Secretary of Defense. Before entering his present post, Secretary Gates was the President of Texas A&M University, the nation's seventh largest university. Prior to assuming the presidency of Texas A&M on August 1, 2002, he served as Interim Dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M from 1999 to 2001. Secretary Gates served as Director of Central Intelligence from 1991 until 1993. Secretary Gates is the only career officer in CIA's history to rise from entry-level employee to Director. He served as Deputy Director of Central Intelligence from 1986 until 1989 and as Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser at the White House from January 20, 1989, until November 6, 1991, for President George H.W. Bush. Secretary Gates has been awarded the National Security Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal, has twice received the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, and has three times received CIA's highest award, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal. Secretary Gates received his bachelor's degree from the College of William and Mary, his master's degree in history from Indiana University, and his doctorate in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University.
Eric Holder, Attorney General
Mr. Holder is a litigation partner at Covington & Burling LLP in Washington, DC. During his professional career, Mr. Holder has held a number of significant positions in government. Upon graduating from Columbia Law School, he moved to Washington, DC and joined the Department of Justice as part of the Attorney General's Honors Program. In 1988, Mr. Holder was nominated by President Reagan to become an Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. He was confirmed by the Senate and his investiture occurred in October of that year. Over the next five years, Judge Holder presided over hundreds of civil and criminal trials and matters. In 1993, President Clinton nominated Mr. Holder to become the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. He was confirmed later that year and served as the head of the largest United States Attorneys office in the nation for nearly four years. In 1997, President Clinton appointed Mr. Holder to serve as Deputy Attorney General, the number two position in the United States Department of Justice. He became the first African-American to serve as Deputy Attorney General. Mr. Holder briefly served under President Bush as Acting Attorney General pending the confirmation of Attorney General John Ashcroft. Mr. Holder attended Columbia College, majored in American History, and graduated in 1973. Mr. Holder then attended Columbia Law School from which he graduated in 1976. While in law school, he clerked at the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense Fund and the Department of Justice's Criminal Division.
Governor Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
Named one of America's Top Five Governors by Time magazine and one of America's top women leaders by Newsweek, Janet Napolitano stands out as a leader in developing innovative solutions to some of our country's greatest challenges. As Governor of Arizona, she's fought for quality schools, affordable healthcare, sensible economic development, a safe homeland, a secure border, and a government that is run efficiently and responsibly. She led the successful effort to create a new grade level in public school by offering voluntary full day kindergarten to every Arizona family. She raised teacher pay, expanded access to health insurance, and saved seniors millions on prescription drugs. Her homeland security background is extensive: as U.S. Attorney for Arizona, Napolitano led the Arizona portion of the domestic terrorism investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing; as Attorney General, she helped write the law to break up human smuggling rings; and as Governor, she implemented the first state homeland security strategy in the nation and opened the first state counter-terrorism center. She is a leader in coordinating federal, state, local and bi-national homeland security efforts, having presided over large-scale disaster preparedness exercises to ensure well-crafted and functional emergency plans. Napolitano was the first governor to call for the National Guard to assist at the U.S. - Mexico border at federal expense, and is a leading national voice for comprehensive immigration reform. The past chair of the National Governors Association- the first woman in history to hold this position- Janet Napolitano was re-elected in 2006 in a landslide victory as Arizona's 21st Governor. Prior to her election as Governor of Arizona, Napolitano served one term as Arizona Attorney General and four years as U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona.
Susan Rice, Ambassador to the United Nations
Dr. Susan E. Rice served most recently as a Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Obama for America campaign while on leave from the Brookings Institution where she is a Senior Fellow in the Foreign Policy and Global Economy and Development Programs. Rice currently serves on the Obama-Biden Transition Project Advisory Board. From 1997-2001, she was U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. Prior to that, Rice served in the White House at the National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs and as Director for International Organizations and Peacekeeping. Rice was previously a management consultant at McKinsey and Company. She received her B.A. in History with Honors from Stanford University and her M.Phil. and D.Phil. (Ph.D.) degrees in International Relations from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.
General Jim Jones, USMC (Ret), National Security Advisor
General Jim Jones, USMC (Ret) is president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber Institute for 21st Century Energy. From July 1999 to January 2003, Jones was the 32nd Commandant of the Marine Corps. After relinquishing command as Commandant, he assumed the positions of Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR) and Commander of the United States European Command (COMUSEUCOM), positions he held until December 2006. During this final assignment, he encouraged the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to regard global energy as a security issue and advocated that the alliance consider the defense of critical infrastructures as a 21st century collective security mission. Jones retired from active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps February 1, 2007, after more than 40 years of service. In addition to having been awarded national and international military awards, Jones received a bachelor of science degree (1966) and an Honorary Doctorate of Letters (2002) from Georgetown University. In June 1985, he graduated from the National War College in Washington, D
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