Panetta Would Bring Decades of Service to Pentagon

WASHINGTON, April 28, 2011 — CIA Direc­tor Leon E. Panet­ta, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s choice as the next sec­re­tary of defense, would bring to the job more than 40 years of gov­ern­ment ser­vice that has tra­versed local and fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and the leg­isla­tive and exec­u­tive branch­es.
Like soon-to-retire Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates, also a for­mer CIA direc­tor, Panet­ta served briefly in the mil­i­tary. He served as an Army intel­li­gence offi­cer from 1964 to 1966 and received the Army Com­men­da­tion Medal.

After his dis­charge, the Mon­terey, Calif., native and son of Ital­ian immi­grants set the stage for his long gov­ern­ment career by work­ing as a leg­isla­tive assis­tant to U.S. Sen­ate minor­i­ty whip Tom Kuchel of Cal­i­for­nia. In 1969, he was appoint­ed as direc­tor of the U.S. Office of Civ­il Rights in Pres­i­dent Richard M. Nixon’s administration. 

Panet­ta, a grad­u­ate of San­ta Clara Law School, served in the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for 16 years and chaired the House Bud­get Com­mit­tee from 1989 to 1993. 

Panet­ta left Con­gress in 1993 to serve as direc­tor of the Office of Man­age­ment and Bud­get in Pres­i­dent Bill Clinton’s admin­is­tra­tion, where he took a lead­ing role in bal­anc­ing the fed­er­al bud­get that led, briefly, to bud­get sur­plus­es. He served as Clinton’s chief of staff from 1994 to 1997. 

Panet­ta and his wife, Sylvia, found­ed the non­par­ti­san Panet­ta Insti­tute for Pub­lic Pol­i­cy in 1997 at Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­si­ty, Mon­terey Bay. The insti­tute pro­vides a range of oppor­tu­ni­ties for study­ing gov­ern­ment — award­ing master’s degrees, host­ing research fel­lows and spon­sor­ing con­gres­sion­al intern­ships. Sylvia Panet­ta serves as the institute’s director. 

The institute’s Leon E. Panet­ta Archive offers a resource for schol­ars inter­est­ed in the work­ings of Con­gress, fed­er­al agen­cies, and local gov­ern­ment, based on Panetta’s per­son­al papers from four decades of work. 

Panet­ta has served on numer­ous boards and com­mis­sions, includ­ing some relat­ed to the mil­i­tary. He co-chaired Cal­i­for­nia Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Coun­cil on Base Sup­port and Reten­tion, and in 2006 served on the Iraq Study Group, a bipar­ti­san nation­al com­mis­sion seek­ing a new course for the war in Iraq. 

Panet­ta, appoint­ed as CIA direc­tor in 2009, is 72. The Panet­tas have three grown sons. 

If con­firmed by the Sen­ate to serve as sec­re­tary of defense, he would take office July 1. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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