WASHINGTON -- President Obama’s nomination of Leon Panetta as his next secretary of defense and General David Petraeus as CIA director are getting high marks today from both Massachusetts senators.
John Kerry, a Democrat, and Scott P. Brown, a Republican, praised the two men on the day that the president announced the nominations in a reshuffling of his national security team.
“While the country will miss the service of Secretary (Robert) Gates, Leon Panetta and General Petraeus are first-rate public servants whose reputations and records transcend party, and I expect broad approval and swift confirmations,” Kerry, the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.
Petraeus and Panetta have both served "admirably," Brown said of the two men. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he will participate in Panetta's hearing and vote on his nomination it goes to the full senate for confirmation.
"I look forward to learning more about their views and goals for the future during their confirmation hearings," Brown said in a statement.
Word began trickling out early yesterday of the changes in the president’s national security team, which was set in motion after Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates’ announcement last year of his plans to retire. President Obama made the announcement mid-afternoon with the men by his side.
“These are the leaders that I’ve chosen to help guide us through the difficult days ahead. I will look to them and my entire national security team for their counsel, continuity and unity of effort that this moment in history demands," the president said
Panetta, the current CIA director, will replace Gates on July 1, assuming his confirmation doesn’t hit any bumps in the Senate. In that position, Panetta will “intensify” Gates’ work of cost-cutting at the Pentagon, according to the White House.
Petraeus will resign from the military and take over the CIA by the beginning of September. The White House is appointing Gen. John Allen, who is now deputy commander for US Central Command, to succeed Petraeus as commander of US forces and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
Petraeus will remain in his position during the summer drawdown of US forces in Afghanistan. In the meantime, Allen will prepare for the Afghanistan assignment in an interim position as a special assistant to Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Petraeus' nomination goes through the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The president nominated Ryan Crocker to be ambassador to Afghanistan, replacing Karl Eikenberry. The process of filling that position has been ongoing for several months, and the White House offered Crocker the position on March 30, according to a White House official.
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About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.