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Leon E. Panetta

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Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta (center) greets acting CIA Director Michael J. Morell after attending a news conference at the White House on Monday, at which President Obama announced that he is nominating his deputy national security adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism and John O. Brennan (left) as the CIA chief. (Associated Press)

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Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, soon to step down, addresses the troops during a visit to Kandahar airfield in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Dec. 13. (Associated Press)

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Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta speaks at the National Press Club in Washington on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

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Afghanistan Panetta_Lea(1).jpg

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta (center) talks with Army Maj. Gen. Robert Abrams (right) and Command Sgt. Maj. Edd Watson during a visit to Kandahar Airfield in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)

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Mideast Kuwait Panett_Lea.jpg

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta (right) talks to reporters on board his plane while headed to Kuwait on Monday, Dec. 10, 2012. Mr. Panetta will meet with U.S. troops as part of a visit to thank them for their service. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)

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At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Wednesday, (from left) Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, Jill Biden, Interior Secretary Kenneth L. Salazar and Sen. Jack Reed applaud during a groundbreaking ceremony for an education center that will tell the stories of generations of veterans killed in combat. (Associated Press)

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Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said Monday the Obama administration is close to a decision on how many American troops will stay in Afghanistan after the U.S.-led combat mission ends in 2014, noting the decision could come in the “next few weeks.” (Associated Press)

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Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, who has held that position since June 2011, is said to want to resume private life, but officially, he is he’s fully focused on his department’s missions. (Associated Press)

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LIBYA_20121105_0009

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accompanied by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, gestures during their joint news conference at the Pentagon on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012. During the news conference, Mr. Panetta said the U.S. military did not intervene during the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya last month because it was over before the U.S. has sufficient information on which way to respond. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

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US South Korea_Live.jpg

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin participate in a joint news conference at the Pentagon in suburban Washington on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012. (Associated Press)

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Belgium NATO Afghanis_Lea(1).jpg

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta attends a meeting of NATO defense ministers at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)