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Obama Fills More Key National Security Slots

James Steinberg, until recently Dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas. (Thierry Charlier/Associated Press)

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.

By Web Politics Editor  |  December 23, 2008; 5:22 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , Cast of Characters , National Security  
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hear me now believe me later... 8 more years of settlement building on the West Bank, and war with Iran. Rodham Clinton is establishing a war cabinet under the guise of diplomacy. So AIPAC got their President after all was said and done.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | December 24, 2008 12:59 AM | Report abuse

Well at least Obama is loading up his administration with lots of Jewish career political types (as Bush did). What the US needs to do is just invite the Israeli intelligence agencies to open offices in the basement of the White House and the Capital Building. This will facilitate the flow of information to the necessary parties in Israel and then they can send orders directly back to Washington without having to go through back channels - vis AIPAC.

Posted by: GOPNAZI | December 23, 2008 11:43 PM | Report abuse

This is a lot of nothing as Hillary WON'T be confirmed as SOS.
The Republicans will filibuster the Senate before they allow a congenital liar like Hillary to confirmed.

Posted by: norcalworm | December 23, 2008 10:00 PM | Report abuse

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