Key members of Obama-Biden national security team announced
Chicago -- President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden officially announced key members of their national security team today: nominating Senator Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, selecting Defense Secretary Robert Gates to remain as Secretary of Defense, nominating Eric Holder as Attorney General, nominating Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, nominating Susan Rice as Ambassador to the United Nations and selecting General Jim Jones, USMC (Ret) as National Security Adviser.
"In this uncertain world, the time has come for a new beginning -- a new dawn of American leadership to overcome the challenges of the 21st century, and to seize the opportunities embedded in those challenges. To succeed, we must pursue a new strategy that skillfully uses, balances, and integrates all elements of American power: our military and diplomacy; our intelligence and law enforcement; our economy and the power of our moral example. The team that we have assembled here today is uniquely suited to do just that. They share my pragmatism about the use of power, and my sense of purpose about America's role as a leader in the world," said President-elect Obama.
"It is an honor to be a part of this team, led by the President-elect -- a team that will see to it that America can lead the world not only by the example of our power, but also by the power of our example. I believe we have assembled a national security team that is poised to recapture the totality of America’s strength," said Vice President-elect Biden.
The national security team members announced today are listed below:
Senator Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State
Over nearly four decades in public service, as an attorney, First Lady, Senator, and presidential candidate, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has become one of the nation's foremost champions for children and families and advocates for women's rights and human rights. During the Clinton Administration, she transformed the role of First Lady, fighting for universal health care and helping to lead successful bipartisan efforts to improve the adoption and foster care systems, reduce teen pregnancy, and provide health care to millions of children through the Children’s Health Insurance Program. As a representative of the United States, she championed American interests as well as the rights of women and girls in more than eighty countries around the world. In November 2000, Senator Clinton became the first First Lady elected to public office and the first woman elected independently in New York State; she has since won reelection. In the Senate, she has continued to advocate for equal access to health care, education, and economic opportunity for women and girls around the world. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Clinton has fought for and secured in law improved health care for members of the National Guard and Reserves and worked to bring our troops home safely and responsibly from Iraq. She also serves as the only Senate member of the Transformation Advisory Group to the Joint Forces Command, working to modernize our military. And Senator Clinton has continued to fight for quality, affordable health care for every American, working to strengthen the Children’s Health Insurance Program and expand the use of health information technology. Most recently, as a groundbreaking candidate for President of the United States, Senator Clinton became the first woman ever to win a presidential primary, receiving more than 18 million votes as an advocate for working families and a voice for millions of Americans who have felt invisible to their government.
Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense
Dr. Robert M. Gates was sworn in on December 18th, 2006, as the 22nd Secretary of Defense. Before entering his present post, Secretary Gates was the President of Texas A&M University, the nation's seventh largest university. Prior to assuming the presidency of Texas A&M on August 1st, 2002, he served as Interim Dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M from 1999 to 2001. Secretary Gates served as Director of Central Intelligence from 1991 until 1993. Secretary Gates is the only career officer in CIA's history to rise from entry-level employee to Director. He served as Deputy Director of Central Intelligence from 1986 until 1989 and as Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser at the White House from January 20th, 1989, until November 6th, 1991, for President George H.W. Bush. Secretary Gates has been awarded the National Security Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal, has twice received the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, and has three times received CIA's highest award, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal. Secretary Gates received his bachelor's degree from the College of William and Mary, his master's degree in history from Indiana University, and his doctorate in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University.
Eric Holder, Attorney General
Mr. Holder is a litigation partner at Covington & Burling LLP in Washington, DC. During his professional career, Mr. Holder has held a number of significant positions in government. Upon graduating from Columbia Law School, he moved to Washington, DC and joined the Department of Justice as part of the Attorney General's Honors Program. In 1988, Mr. Holder was nominated by President Reagan to become an Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. He was confirmed by the Senate and his investiture occurred in October of that year. Over the next five years, Judge Holder presided over hundreds of civil and criminal trials and matters. In 1993, President Clinton nominated Mr. Holder to become the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. He was confirmed later that year and served as the head of the largest United States Attorneys office in the nation for nearly four years. In 1997, President Clinton appointed Mr. Holder to serve as Deputy Attorney General, the number two position in the United States Department of Justice. He became the first African-American to serve as Deputy Attorney General. Mr. Holder briefly served under President Bush as Acting Attorney General pending the confirmation of Attorney General John Ashcroft. Mr. Holder attended Columbia College, majored in American History, and graduated in 1973. Mr. Holder then attended Columbia Law School from which he graduated in 1976. While in law school, he clerked at the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense Fund and the Department of Justice's Criminal Division.
Governor Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
Named one of America's Top Five Governors by Time magazine and one of America's top women leaders by Newsweek, Janet Napolitano stands out as a leader in developing innovative solutions to some of our country's greatest challenges. As Governor of Arizona, she's fought for quality schools, affordable healthcare, sensible economic development, a safe homeland, a secure border, and a government that is run efficiently and responsibly. She led the successful effort to create a new grade level in public school by offering voluntary full day kindergarten to every Arizona family. She raised teacher pay, expanded access to health insurance, and saved seniors millions on prescription drugs. Her homeland security background is extensive: as U.S. Attorney for Arizona, Napolitano led the Arizona portion of the domestic terrorism investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing; as Attorney General, she helped write the law to break up human smuggling rings; and as Governor, she implemented the first state homeland security strategy in the nation and opened the first state counter-terrorism center. She is a leader in coordinating federal, state, local and bi-national homeland security efforts, having presided over large-scale disaster preparedness exercises to ensure well-crafted and functional emergency plans. Napolitano was the first governor to call for the National Guard to assist at the U.S. -- Mexico border at federal expense, and is a leading national voice for comprehensive immigration reform. The past chair of the National Governors Association -- the first woman in history to hold this position -- Janet Napolitano was re-elected in 2006 in a landslide victory as Arizona's 21st Governor. Prior to her election as Governor of Arizona, Napolitano served one term as Arizona Attorney General and four years as U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona.
Susan Rice, Ambassador to the United Nations
Dr. Susan E. Rice served most recently as a Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Obama for America campaign while on leave from the Brookings Institution where she is a Senior Fellow in the Foreign Policy and Global Economy and Development Programs. Rice currently serves on the Obama-Biden Transition Project Advisory Board. From 1997-2001, she was U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. Prior to that, Rice served in the White House at the National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs and as Director for International Organizations and Peacekeeping. Rice was previously a management consultant at McKinsey and Company. She received her B.A. in History with Honors from Stanford University and her M.Phil. and D.Phil. (Ph.D.) degrees in International Relations from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.
General Jim Jones, USMC (Ret), National Security Advisor
General Jim Jones, USMC (Ret) is president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber Institute for 21st Century Energy. From July 1999 to January 2003, Jones was the 32nd Commandant of the Marine Corps. After relinquishing command as Commandant, he assumed the positions of Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR) and Commander of the United States European Command (COMUSEUCOM), positions he held until December 2006. During this final assignment, he encouraged the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to regard global energy as a security issue and advocated that the alliance consider the defense of critical infrastructures as a 21st century collective security mission. Jones retired from active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps February 1st, 2007, after more than 40 years of service. In addition to having been awarded national and international military awards, Jones received a bachelor of science degree (1966) and an Honorary Doctorate of Letters (2002) from Georgetown University. In June 1985, he graduated from the National War College in Washington, D.C.
Standing order at the press conference (L-R): General Jim Jones, USMC (Ret); Governor Janet Napolitano; Defense Secretary Robert Gates; Vice President-elect Joe Biden; President-elect Barack Obama; Senator Hillary Clinton; Eric Holder; Dr. Susan Rice
Speaking order at the press conference: President-elect Barack Obama, Senator Hillary Clinton, Secretary Robert Gates, Eric Holder, Governor Janet Napolitano, Dr. Susan Rice, General Jim Jones, USMC (Ret), Vice President-elect Joe Biden
Remarks of President-elect Barack Obama
Announcement of National Security Team
December 1st, 2008
Good morning. Last week, we announced our economic team, which is working as we speak to craft an Economic Recovery Program to create jobs and grow our struggling economy. Today, Vice President-elect Biden and I are pleased to announce our national security team.
The national security challenges we face are just as grave -- and just as urgent -- as our economic crisis. We are fighting two wars. Old conflicts remain unresolved, and newly assertive powers have put strains on the international system. The spread of nuclear weapons raises the peril that the world’s deadliest technology could fall into dangerous hands. Our dependence on foreign oil empowers authoritarian governments and endangers our planet.
America must also be strong at home to be strong abroad. We need to provide education and opportunity for our citizens, so every American can compete with anyone, anywhere. And our economic power must sustain our military strength, our diplomatic leverage, and our global leadership.
The common thread linking these challenges is the fundamental reality that in the 21st century, our destiny is shared with the world's. From our markets to our security; from our public health to our climate -- we must act with the understanding that, now more than ever, we have a stake in what happens across the globe. And as we learned so painfully on 9/11, terror cannot be contained by borders, nor safety provided by oceans alone.
Last week, we were reminded of this threat once again when terrorists took the lives of six American among nearly 200 victims in Mumbai. In the world we seek, there is no place for those who kill innocent civilians to advance hateful extremism. This weekend, I told Prime Minister Singh that Americans stand with the people of India in this dark time. And I am confident that India's great democracy is more resilient than killers who would tear it down.
And so, in this uncertain world, the time has come for a new beginning -- a new dawn of American leadership to overcome the challenges of the 21st century, and to seize the opportunities embedded in those challenges. We will strengthen our capacity to defeat our enemies and support our friends. We will renew old alliances and forge new and enduring partnerships. We will show the world once more that America is relentless in defense of our people, steady in advancing our interests, and committed to the ideals that shine as a beacon to the world: democracy and justice; opportunity and unyielding hope -- because American values are America’s greatest export to the world.
To succeed, we must pursue a new strategy that skillfully uses, balances, and integrates all elements of American power: our military and diplomacy; our intelligence and law enforcement; our economy and the power of our moral example. The team that we have assembled here today is uniquely suited to do just that.
In their past service and plans for the future, these men and women represent all of those elements of American power, and the very best of the American example. They have served in uniform and as diplomats; they have worked as legislators, law enforcement officials, and executives. They share my pragmatism about the use of power, and my sense of purpose about America's role as a leader in the world.
I have known Hillary Clinton as a friend, a colleague, a source of counsel, and as a campaign opponent. She possesses an extraordinary intelligence and toughness, and a remarkable work ethic. I am proud that she will be our next Secretary of State. She is an American of tremendous stature who will have my complete confidence; who knows many of the world's leaders; who will command respect in every capitol; and who will clearly have the ability to advance our interests around the world.
Hillary’s appointment is a sign to friend and foe of the seriousness of my commitment to renew American diplomacy and restore our alliances. There is much to do -- from preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to Iran and North Korea, to seeking a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, to strengthening international institutions. I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton is the right person to lead our State Department, and to work with me in tackling this ambitious foreign policy agenda.
At a time when we face an unprecedented transition amidst two wars, I have asked Robert Gates to continue as Secretary of Defense, and I'm pleased that he's accepted. Two years ago, he took over the Pentagon at a difficult time. He restored accountability. He won the confidence of military commanders, and the trust of our brave men and women in uniform, and their families. He earned the respect of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle for his pragmatism and competence. He knows that we need a sustainable national security strategy -- and that includes a bipartisan consensus at home.
As I said throughout the campaign, I will be giving Secretary Gates and our military a new mission as soon as I take office: responsibly ending the war in Iraq through a successful transition to Iraqi control. We will also ensure that we have the strategy -- and resources -- to succeed against al Qaeda and the Taliban. As Bob said not too long ago, Afghanistan is where the war on terror began, and it is where it must end. And going forward, we will continue to make the investments necessary to strengthen our military and increase our ground forces to defeat the threats of the 21st century.
Eric Holder has the talent and commitment to succeed as Attorney General from his first day on the job, which is even more important in a transition that demands vigilance. He has distinguished himself as a prosecutor, a Judge, and a senior official, and he is deeply familiar with the law enforcement challenges we face– from terrorism to counter-intelligence; from white collar crime to public corruption.
Eric also has the combination of toughness and independence that we need at the Justice Department. Let me be clear: the Attorney General serves the American people. And I have every expectation that Eric will protect our people, uphold the public trust, and adhere to our Constitution.
Janet Napolitano offers the experience and executive skill that we need in the next Secretary of Homeland Security. She has spent her career protecting people -- as a US Attorney, an Attorney General, and as Governor of Arizona. She understands the need for a Department of Homeland Security that has the capacity to help prevent terrorist attacks and respond to catastrophe -- be it manmade or natural.
Janet assumes this critical role having learned the lessons -- some of them painful -- of the last several years, from 9/11 to Katrina. She insists on competence and accountability. She knows firsthand the need to have a partner in Washington that works well with state and local governments. She understands as well as anyone the danger of an unsecure border. And she will be a leader who can reform a sprawling Department while safeguarding our homeland.
Susan Rice will take on the crucial task of serving as Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations. Susan has been a close and trusted advisor. As in previous Administrations, the UN Ambassador will serve as a member of my cabinet and integral member of my team. Her background as a scholar, on the National Security Council, and Assistant Secretary of State will serve our nation well at the United Nations.
Susan knows that the global challenges we face demand global institutions that work. She shares my belief that the UN is an indispensable -- and imperfect -- forum. She will carry the message that our commitment to multilateral action must be coupled with a commitment to reform. We need the UN to be more effective as a venue for collective action -- against terror and proliferation; climate change and genocide; poverty and disease.
Finally, I am convinced that General James Jones is uniquely suited to be a strong and skilled National Security Advisor. Generations of Joneses have served heroically on the battlefield -- from the beaches of Tarawa in World War II, to Foxtrot Ridge in Vietnam. Jim's Silver Star is a proud part of that legacy. He will bring to the job the dual experience of serving in uniform and as a diplomat. He has commanded a platoon in battle, served as Supreme Allied Commander in a time of war, and worked on behalf of peace in the Middle East.
Jim is focused on the threats of today and the future. He understands the connection between energy and national security, and has worked on the frontlines of global instability – from Kosovo to northern Iraq to Afghanistan. He will advise me and work effectively to integrate our efforts across the government, so that we are effectively using all elements of American power to defeat unconventional threats and promote our values.
I am confident that this is the team that we need to make a new beginning for American national security. This morning, we met to discuss the situation in Mumbai and some of the challenges that we face in the months and years ahead. In the coming weeks, I will be in close contact with these advisors, who will be working with their counterparts in the Bush Administration to make sure that we are ready to hit the ground running on January 20. Given the range of threats that we face -- and the vulnerability that can be a part of every presidential transition -- I hope that we can proceed swiftly for those national security officials who demand confirmation.
We move forward with the humility that comes with knowing that there are brave men and women protecting us on the front lines. Troops serving their second, third, or fourth tours. Diplomats and intelligence officers in dangerous corners of the world. FBI agents in the field, cops on the beat, prosecutors in our courts, and cargo inspectors at our ports. These selfless Americans whose names are unknown to most of us will form the backbone of our effort. If we serve as well as they do, we will protect our country and promote our values.
And we move forward with respect for America's tradition of a bipartisan national security policy, and a commitment to national unity. When it comes to keeping our nation and our people safe, we are not Republicans and we are not Democrats: we are Americans. There is no monopoly of power or wisdom in either party. Together, as one nation, as one people, we can shape our times instead of being shaped by them. Together, we will meet the challenges of the 21st century not with fear, but with hope.
Now, before I take questions, I'd like to invite my team to say a few words, starting with my friend Hillary Clinton. Thank you.
The Transition Directory was developed to introduce members of the Transition and the incoming Administration to the Federal government resources available to them.