Pentagon and top diplomat posts to be announced soon
WASHINGTON - Reuters
US President Obama (R) is seen with Sen Hagel in this 2008 photo. REUTERS photoU.S. President Barack Obama is expected to announce his nominees for secretaries of state and defense in the next two weeks, with former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel on the short list of potential choices to head the Pentagon, senior administration officials said Dec. 4.
Hagel, whose appointment would give Obama’s reshuffled second-term Cabinet a bipartisan cast, met the Democratic president at the White House this week to discuss a post on his national security team. The choice of Hagel, a moderate on foreign policy who currently co-chairs Obama’s Intelligence Advisory Board, would give the president a Republican in his Cabinet at a time when he is trying to win bipartisan cooperation from congressional Republicans on taxes and spending to avoid a looming “fiscal cliff.”
Obama is still deliberating whether to unveil his top national security appointments, likely to include a new CIA director, in a single high-profile package this month or to name them one-by-one. Other top contenders to replace Defense Secretary Leon Panetta are believed to include former senior Pentagon official Michele Flournoy, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Democratic Senator John Kerry.
Complicating matters, Obama is also deciding whether to nominate Kerry as secretary of state to replace Hillary Clinton, or to go with Susan Rice, embattled U.S. ambassador to the U.N.
Obama’s choices for State and Defense will essentially set the tone for his administration’s handling of a wide range of global issues in his second term, including Middle East upheaval, Iran’s nuclear standoff with the West and efforts to wind down the war in Afghanistan. Obama is not expected to unveil his choices before next week.