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Kerry On President Obama’s National Security Team Nominations

Washington, DC – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) released the following statement today in response to President Obama’s announcement that Robert Gates will retire and that he will nominate Leon Panetta as the next Secretary of Defense and Gen. David Petraeus as the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency:

“While the country will miss the service of Secretary 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.

“Bob Gates has done a tremendous job in so many different assignments in the government, particularly in this latest tour of duty under two presidents where he oversaw everything from the surge and the drawdown in Iraq to the review, surge, and now the start of the transition in Afghanistan. Bob's arrival at the Pentagon in particular helped end the turf battles and inter-agency divide of the Rumsfeld era, and he seamlessly integrated the Pentagon’s goals into America’s broader foreign policy agenda.

“President Obama’s choice of Director Panetta to follow Secretary Gates and General Petraeus to take the reins at the CIA will provide important continuity of leadership, policy, and philosophy and keeps a strong national security team in place.

“Across four decades in government, Leon Panetta has gained an extraordinarily deep institutional knowledge of the White House, Congress, and the CIA that will benefit him as Secretary of Defense. He’s earned broad respect for the way he pragmatically, thoughtfully confronted the vexing challenges of Iraq through his work on the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, and he’s earned respect from Democrats and Republicans for his work to repair the image and the credibility of the CIA.

“General Petraeus is simply among the very best military leaders of his generation. He knows firsthand the life and death importance that good intelligence plays in protecting the security of the United States.”

Senator Kerry also said he looked forward to an early confirmation hearing on the nomination of Ryan Crocker as Ambassador to Afghanistan.