Director Leon E. Panetta Announces New National Clandestine Service Chief
July 21, 2010
Director Leon E. Panetta announced today the appointment of John D. Bennett to be the next head of the National Clandestine Service. Mr. Bennett will succeed Michael J. Sulick, who is retiring.
“Every CIA Director relies on the wisdom, experience, and friendship of an exceptionally talented senior leadership team,” Director Panetta said in a message to Agency employees. “I have been very fortunate to have Mike Sulick on mine. As head of our National Clandestine Service for the past three years, he has guided complex operations under some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable. Our officers have had tremendous success against the full range of national security challenges, including terrorists, weapons proliferators, drug traffickers, rogue states, and hostile intelligence services.
“That record is, to Mike and everyone else familiar with it, a source of deep and enduring pride. I knew that he had come out of retirement in 2007, and that he would not be here forever. So when Mike told me a while back that he wanted to retire again this summer, I had to agree that he had more than earned it. Mike’s love of his Agency and his country are clear to all who have served with him over the decades. His expertise, judgment, courage, and candor have made all the difference.”
Director Panetta lauded Mr. Sulick’s years of public service, saying, “He can take satisfaction not only in the safety he helped provide our country, but in the officers he taught, mentored, and inspired, who, throughout the world, will continue this Agency’s unique and essential mission.”
Mr. Bennett joined the Agency in 1981, after service in the Marine Corps, and has spent most of his career in the foreign field, including four tours as Station Chief.
“John has impeccable credentials at the very core of intelligence operations—espionage, covert action, and liaison,” Director Panetta said. “He has been at the forefront of the fight against al-Qa’ida and its violent allies. We are fortunate to have a number of very gifted leaders within the NCS who are doing a great job of protecting our nation. John brings a unique set of talents to this position; he knows the topics and regions that are likely to shape our security agenda in the years ahead. But there is much more to it than that. He also understands the hardships and benefits of tough jobs, and he knows—in any environment—the mix of skills, capabilities, and partners that successful operations demand.”
Mr. Bennett’s senior positions at Headquarters include Chief of Special Activities Division, Deputy Chief of Africa Division, and Deputy Director of the NCS for Community HUMINT.
“John is an outstanding leader, devoted to the mission and those who get it done,” Director Panetta said. “He says what he thinks and he does what he says. I trust him, and I rely on him. He has a keen sense of the risks and opportunities inherent in every operational activity. He is supremely qualified to guide our National Clandestine Service to further success. On behalf of everyone at CIA, Michael Morell and I thank and congratulate John for taking this critical post. There is no finer espionage service than the one he is about to lead.”