Obama Fills More Key National Security Slots
By Michael Abramowitz
President-elect Barack Obama began filling out the rest of his national security team today, naming long-standing Democratic foreign policy figures -- plus a former White House budget director -- to key posts at the State Department and National Security Council.
Obama's Secretary of State designate Hillary Rodham Clinton will have two deputies, according to an announcement from the transition office. One, former Clinton administration official James B. Steinberg, will focus on policy, while the other, former Office of Management and Budget director Jacob Lew, will focus on budget and resources.
Lew's appointment to what is essentially a new position at State -- usually there is only one deputy -- is a possible sign of Clinton's interest in expanding resources for the department. While many past secretaries have voiced interest in growing the size and influence of the department, some of Clinton's informal advisers say she is deeply interested in revitalizing the role of diplomacy in national security policy -- and needs more resources to do so.
Meanwhile, lawyer and former State Department chief of staff Thomas E. Donilon will serve as deputy to National Security Adviser James Jones, and Tony Blinken will serve as national security adviser to Vice President-elect Joe Biden.
Both Blinken and Donilon are extremely close to the future vice president, whom many expect will play a big role in national security policy for Obama. Blinken has served as Biden's top aide on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is married to Evan M. Ryan, who has also been tapped to be a top assistant to Biden. Donilon, a long-time player in national Democratic politics, has been an informal adviser to Biden for years and is married to Cathy Russell, who will serve as chief of staff for Biden's wife Jill. His brother Michael Donilon will serve as counselor to Biden.
Steinberg and Lew will require Senate confirmation to serve in their posts.
Posted at 5:22 PM ET on Dec 23, 2008
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