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DEFENSE COMMUNITIES 360

Washington is Leaning toward Leon Panetta

  • April 24, 2011
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Apparently, the powers that be have deigned Leon Panetta the next secretary of defense. While it is not yet clear if the powers that be includes the president or any of his closest advisors, the CIA director appears to be the frontrunner among Washington insiders as to who will replace Robert Gates when he steps down before the end of the year, reports Politico.

Certainly, a lot of factors favor the selection of Panetta — he has good relations with Congress, he’s brought a sense of calm to the CIA, and he has the ideal background for shrinking the Pentagon’s budget. Of course, no one knows if at the age of 73, which Panetta will turn in June, whether he’ll want to take on another high-profile, pressure-cooker assignment.

Other names have been mentioned as well as potential successors to Gates, according to the story, including Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy.

Some expect Obama to name a replacement by June, with Gates stepping down sometime during the summer.

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