President Barack Obama was moved to release his birth certificate Wednesday largely on the grounds that it was time for the nation to return its attention to more pressing matters. At the top of the White House list: impending major changes of the guard in Obama's national security team, prompted by Defense Secretary Bob Gates' plans to retire this summer.
Obama will announce on Thursday his decision to name CIA director Leon Panetta to succeed Gates as Secretary of Defense, and Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, to succeed Panetta at the helm of the CIA, officials said. He will also name Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Allen--Petraeus' former deputy commander at U.S. Central Command--to succeed Petraeus, and veteran diplomat Ryan Crocker to become U.S. envoy to Kabul.
White House officials emphasized the deep experience and proven effectiveness of all four appointees and the "seamless transition" they will bring to managing current security challenges from Afghanistan to Iran to Yemen.
Washington national security experts said the appointments show Obama values continuity and effectiveness over any radical change, and plans to continue pursuing a centrist national security policy.
"Obama doesn't want to shake up the...establishment," Heather Hurlburt, executive director of the progressive National Security Network and a former Clinton administration official, told the Envoy. "If there's any shaking up to be done, it will be done by him and not by anyone else."Read More »from White House stresses “seamless transition” in picks of Panetta, Petraeus to head Defense, CIA