Panetta, Blair complete national security team

Four days after rumors began swirling about Barack Obama's surprise pick of Leon Panetta for CIA director, the buzz has become official.

At a press conference on Friday morning Obama announced the nominations of Panetta, retired Adm. Dennis Blair for National Intelligence director and former CIA official John Brennan -- who withdrew from consideration for CIA director in November after opposition from liberal bloggers -- as White House homeland security adviser and deputy national security adviser for counterterrorism.

Some Bush administration officials will remain to work with the incoming intelligence team. Current DNI Mike McConnell will offer counsel on the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, and Michael Leiter will continue as head of the United States National Counterterrorism Center.

Panetta has served as a congressman from California, Office of Management and Budget director, and White House chief of staff to President Clinton, but he has no direct intelligence experience. The unexpected pick has already triggered criticism both in Congress and the media, and will likely generate tough questioning at Panetta's confirmation hearing.

Obama wasted no time pre-emptively defending the pick. After listing Blair's credentials, the president-elect said Blair's experience "will be exceptionally complemented" by Panetta. "Let me be clear," Obama stressed. "In Leon Panetta, the agency will have a director who has my complete trust and substantial clout."

Panetta also received an unequivocal seal of approval from Blair in his remarks. "I couldn't have asked for a better leader for the CIA," Blair said, as he turned to Panetta. "With your background and perspective, the agency is in superb hands."

Panetta, who took to the podium after Blair, stressed the need for a strong intelligence team. "I commit to consulting closely with my former colleagues and the Congress to form the kind of partnership we need to win the war on terror," he said.

Check out the blog Lost in Transition, a joint effort of Government Executive and National Journal.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.