Leon Panetta Confirmed as CIA Chief

January 28, 2010 at 12:00 am

Leon Panetta, who earned his bachelors and J.D. from Santa Clara University, was confirmed on February 12 as the head of the Central Intelligence Agency. The Senate Intelligence Committee approved Panetta’s nomination without opposition, and he was approved by the full Senate on a voice vote.

In early January, then President-elect Barack Obama announced his nomination of Leon Panetta ’63 for the post.

At the press conference announcing the nomination, President-Elect Obama described Panetta as "one of the finest public servants of our time," adding "he has handled intelligence daily, at the very highest levels, and time and again he has demonstrated sound judgment, grace under fire, and complete integrity."

"Let me be clear: in Leon Panetta, the Agency will have a director who has my complete trust and substantial clout,” Obama said in his remarks announcing the nomination. "He will be a strong manager and a strong advocate for the CIA. He knows how to focus resources where they are needed, and he has a proven track record of building consensus and working on a bipartisan basis with Congress. I am confident that he will strengthen the CIA’s capability to protect the American people as it continues to adapt to our reformed intelligence community.”

An eight-term congressman and the former Chief of Staff to President Clinton, Leon Panetta earned his bachelors degree from Santa Clara University in 1960, and his juris doctorate from Santa Clara University School of Law in 1963, where he served as an editor of the Law Review. A member of Santa Clara Law’s Board of Visitors, Panetta celebrated his 45-year class reunion this past fall at the Law Alumni Reunion festivities.

"Leon Panetta has a long and distinguished career of service to this country,” remarked Santa Clara Law Dean Donald Polden. "His confirmation as head the CIA reflects the tremendous respect that President Obama and Senate members have for Leon and his ability to lead that critical agency with ethics and integrity. Leon continues to be a lawyer who leads through service to his country and the international community. The entire Santa Clara Law community is proud of him and his commitment to government service and leadership."

Below are the comments Leon Panetta made at the press conference announcing his nomination to head the CIA.

"Thank you, Mr. President-Elect, for this honor and this opportunity to once again serve our great country. Throughout my 40 years in public life, I have had the honor and the privilege of serving this nation in a number of capacities. In recent years, my wife Sylvia and I established the Panetta Institute, whose mission is to inspire young people to lives of public service. Surely we can now do no less. Particularly at a time when our national security is threatened, I believe it is important to respond again to this call to duty, like so many other brave Americans have done. And it’s because of them that I will work tirelessly to defend this nation and to provide you, Mr. President-Elect, with the most accurate and objective intelligence that you need to lead this nation at a time of great peril but also a time of great opportunity.

"The Central Intelligence Agency has a rich and proud history. As you referenced, the professionals at CIA serve bravely around the world, many in dangerous places and away from their families, often undercover, sometimes under fire. They are the front line of our defense at a very dangerous time, and they deserve and will have my complete confidence and support. Strong intelligence requires a strong team, and I look forward to working with Admiral Blair, with John Brennan, as well as the other many talented and dedicated men and women of our intelligence community. And I look forward to working with the other members of your administration, particularly those involved with national security. And I commit to consulting closely with my former colleagues in the Congress to form the kind of partnership we need if we are to win the war on terror.

"The inscription on the wall at the old headquarters building at Langley quotes Scripture: ‘And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ If confirmed, Mr. President-Elect, I will be honored to lead the men and women of the CIA, to seek and to speak the truth, and in so doing to help preserve this nation’s freedom."

AP Story on Panetta Confirmation

More from change.gov on the Panetta nomination.

Click here for more history on Leon Panetta.

Click here for the Santa Clara University Press Release on Leon Panetta and his nomination.

Click here for The Panetta Institute.

Click here for a San Jose Mercury News editorial on the nomination

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