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Message from the Director: Nomination to be Secretary of Defense

Statement to Employees by Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Leon E. Panetta on His Nomination to be Secretary of Defense

April 28, 2011


I have always believed in the importance of giving back to the nation.  For 40 years, I have had the honor of serving my country, from the Army to Senate Legislative Assistant to Director of the US Office for Civil Rights, to Congress, Director of OMB, Chief of Staff to the President and, today, Director of the CIA.  I am proud of that service—and it makes it that much more difficult to say “no” to the President of the United States when he offers a new post.

This week, President Obama asked me to be his Secretary of Defense.  I agreed, but not without a heavy heart at the prospect of leaving this extraordinary organization.

Working with you—the men and women of the Central Intelligence Agency—is the greatest experience I’ve known in my long career of public service.  Here at Headquarters and at each of the more than 40 Stations and Bases I’ve visited across the world, I’ve seen you apply your exceptional skill, creativity, and spirit to the most difficult and complex foreign challenges facing our country.

This is a historic time for the CIA.  We are conducting our most aggressive operations against al-Qa’ida and severely constraining their operational ability.  We are providing expertise and insight to policymakers on the entire range of global issues, from North Africa to Iran, from Afghanistan to North Korea, and beyond.  We are developing technology our adversaries cannot even imagine.  We are operating worldwide with matchless agility.  We are building greater workforce diversity and language abilities.  Above all, we are making a real difference in protecting the American people.  I am proud of you and deeply appreciate your service, loyalty, dedication, and friendship.

I also have the highest admiration and respect for our partners in uniform, who, like Agency officers, are patriots who go wherever the mission calls, putting their lives on the line for our country.  As Secretary Gates said last year when he visited Headquarters, the CIA and America’s military have never worked together as closely as we do now, in the war zones and everywhere else.  As a former Director, he has the deep understanding of our Agency to make the most of the critical relationship between intelligence and military operations.  If confirmed as Secretary of Defense, I will strive to accomplish the same outstanding results that my friend Bob Gates has achieved for so many years.

The man President Obama will nominate as our Agency’s next Director, General David Petraeus, is a genuine American hero, a gifted leader who has made decisive contributions to national security.  Regardless of the timing of the confirmation process, we are very fortunate that Michael Morell will serve as Acting Director during any transitional period, ensuring that our Agency will be in extremely capable hands.  He has been an outstanding Deputy and friend.  I know you will give them the same loyalty and service you’ve given me.

I still have a job to do here—fighting for you and for the success of our global mission.  If all goes as planned, my last day of service will be July 1st.  Whatever happens in coming weeks, I want you to know that I will always have a warm place in my heart for the CIA.  Like you, I will always be proud to be part of our Agency family.  Wherever I go and wherever I serve, I will remember you for your great patriotism in giving our children a better and more secure life.  That is and always will be our sacred duty.

Leon E. Panetta

Historical Document
Posted: Apr 28, 2011 02:55 PM
Last Updated: Apr 29, 2013 01:30 PM