Senate Confirms Panetta as Defense Secretary

The Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved Leon Panetta, current CIA Director, to be the next Defense Secretary. Panetta will replace Robert Gates, who’s led the Pentagon since December 2006 and is scheduled to step down on June 30. Panetta’s confirmation came one day ahead of President Obama’s scheduled address to the nation on his plans to draw down US troops in Afghanistan. Panetta received broad bipartisan support following his June 9 confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Obama has nominated Army Gen. David Petraeus, top US general in Afghanistan, to replace Panetta at the CIA. (AFPS report by Lisa Daniel) (See also Tuesday’s floor statement by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, and floor statement by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), SASC ranking member, prior to the nomination vote.)