WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will nominate CIA director Leon Panetta as the next defense secretary, officials said Wednesday.
Here are five facts about Panetta.
* Panetta, 72, is a long-standing Democrat who made his mark in Washington with success in cutting the federal budget deficit during the 1990s. As chairman of the House of Representatives Budget Committee, his negotiations with the White House in 1990 forced Republican President George H.W. Bush to violate his “read my lips, no new taxes” pledge. This budget deal is credited with helping catapult Bill Clinton, a Democrat, to the White House in 1992.
* Panetta became Obama’s director of the CIA in February 2009. He pushed forward with the drone strikes against militant suspects in tribal areas along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan that started in the George W. Bush administration. As spy chief he traveled to more than 30 countries.
* Clinton appointed him to head the Office of Management and Budget where he helped shape Clinton’s 1993 budget agreement that raised taxes and moved the country on track to balance the budget. He took over as Clinton’s White House chief of staff, and in 1996 helped negotiate a deal ending the shutdown of the federal government that resulted from a budget impasse many blamed on overly eager Republicans in Congress. He left the White House before the president got embroiled in an impeachment fight with Congress.
* Panetta was educated at Santa Clara University and its law school. After serving a stint in the Army he went to work for a series of moderate or liberal Republicans.
* President Richard Nixon appointed him director of the Office of Civil Rights, which he left due to disagreement with the Republican White House over civil rights enforcement. He quit the Republican party and became a Democrat in 1971 and was elected to his first term in Congress in 1976, representing a district near San Francisco.
Writing by Jackie Frank, Additional reporting by mark Hosenball; Editing by Vicki Allen