Obama Taps Hagel, Brennan for Pentagon, CIA

He praises both men at White House event

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 7, 2013 12:55 PM CST

(Newser) – President Obama officially announced his nominations of Chuck Hagel as secretary of Defense and John Brennan as CIA director today, praising both men for their records of service at a press event in the East Room of the White House. Hagel, Obama said, "knows that war is not an abstraction. … My frame of reference, he has said, is geared towards the guy at the bottom, who's doing the fighting and the dying." In Brennan's case, Obama lingered on his work ethic. "John is legendary even in the White House for working hard," he said. "I'm not sure he's slept in four years."

  • Leon Panetta appeared to get a little choked up as he gave his farewell remarks, expressing his "profound gratitude" toward his colleagues. He joked that he'd be returning to his California walnut farm and "dealing with a different set of nuts."
  • Hagel thanked Obama for the opportunity, and pledged to "advance global freedom, decency, and humanity. Mr. President, I will always give you my honest and most informed counsel."
  • Brennan said that leading the CIA would be the "greatest privilege and greatest responsibility of my professional life." He promised its work would "always reflect the liberty, freedoms, and the values that we hold so dear." He also vowed a "full and open discourse on intelligence matters" with elected representatives.

President Obama announces his nomination of John Brennan, right, as the new director of the CIA, and Chuck Hagel, left, as the new Defense Secretary, in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 7, 2013
President Obama announces his nomination of John Brennan, right, as the new director of the CIA, and Chuck Hagel, left, as the new Defense Secretary, in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 7, 2013   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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