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Published: Tuesday, 6/21/2011

Senate approves Obama's pick of Panetta to lead Pentagon at time of war and budget cuts


WASHINGTON — The Senate has unanimously approved the nomination of Leon Panetta to be the next Pentagon chief.

Panetta will replace Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who is retiring June 30 after 4 ½ years on the job through the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Panetta currently is CIA director. He has served in the House as a California congressman, headed the Budget Committee and was director of the Office of Management and Budget. He also was chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton.

He takes over the Pentagon with a crowded agenda — overseeing the drawdown of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, likely implementing the new policy to let gays serve openly in the military, handling the Libyan conflict and cutting the budget.

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