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Defense Secretary Will Skip Inauguration

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, the lone member of the Bush Cabinet who will keep his job under President-elect Barack Obama, will go today to a military base outside Washington, as the "designated successor" to run the federal government in case of a catastrophe during the inauguration, officials said yesterday.

The secretary of defense is sixth in line to succeed the president, under the Presidential Succession Act. That law was passed to create a framework for the elected government to continue if the president and other national leaders were killed by a nuclear bomb or other such attack.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told Agence France-Presse that Gates "will be spending the day at a military installation outside the national capital region." He declined to offer further details, citing security concerns.

Those officials who rank ahead of Gates in the line of succession -- Vice President Cheney, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Byrd, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson -- are expected to be at the Capitol today to witness the handover of power from President Bush to Obama.

Similar arrangements are put into place when a president addresses a joint session of Congress, as in the State of the Union address.

Posted at 6:00 AM ET on Jan 20, 2009
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Neither my wife nor I saw Secretary Rice in any of the broadcast of the inauguration. We saw other Bush administration officials serving as escorts. I recall Colin Powell being pointed out. Where was Secretary Rice during the inauguration?

Posted by: baumgrenze | January 21, 2009 11:42 PM

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