WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama plans to announce Thursday he is nominating CIA Director Leon Panetta (photo) as defense secretary, Gen. David Petraeus to head the CIA and Ryan Crocker as the new U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan in what will be the most extensive reshaping of the Obama national security team to date, sources told CNN.
Lt. Gen John Allen also will be nominated to replace Petraeus as the commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, a senior U.S. official says.
The moves are part of an upcoming shuffle of the president’s national security team. In addition to Robert Gates retiring as defense secretary, the president will need replacements for Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and FBI Director Robert Muller. Both their terms are expiring and they are not eligible for renomination. Panetta took over at the CIA in February 2009.
Panetta, 72, was chief of staff to President Clinton between 1994 and 1997. Previously, he was director of the Office of Management and Budget. The California Democrat served in the House of Representatives from 1977 to 1993.
Before coming to the CIA, he spent 10 years co-directing a public policy institute with his wife, Sylvia.
He was brought in as a relative outsider without hands-on intelligence experience to manage an agency that had been shaken by the exposure and criticism of its controversial interrogation and detention program.
Panetta’s longstanding ties to Congress were seen as a way to restore the administration’s relationship with oversight committees. He has been given high marks on both fronts from inside the agency and in Congress.