Obama Announces National Security Team

President-Elect Obama made the nominations official today:

Hillary Clinton- Secretary of State

Robert Gates stays on as Secretary of Defense

Eric Holder – Attorney General

Janet Napolitano – Homeland Security

Susan Rice – U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

James Jones – National Security Advisor

The news conference was striking for its sober tone but also for several pointed if implicit rebukes of Bush Administration policy:

Obama: As we move forward with respect for America’s tradition of a bipartisan national security policy and a commitment to national unity we have to recall that when it comes to keeping our nation and our people safe we are not Republicans or Democrats, we are Americans. There’s no monopoly of power or wisdom in either party. Together, as one nation, as one people, we can shape our times instead of being shaped by them. Together we will meet the challenges of the 21st century not with fear but with hope.

Hillary Clinton: By electing Barack Obama our next president, the American people have demanded not just a new direction at home, but a new effort to renew America’s standing in the world as a force for positive change. We know our security, our values, and our interests cannot be protected and advanced by force alone, nor indeed by Americans alone. We must pursue vigorous diplomacy using all the tools we can muster to build a future with more partners and fewer adversaries, more opportunities and fewer dangers for all who seek freedom, peace and prosperity. America is a place founded on the idea that everyone should have the right to live up to his or her god-given potential. And it is that same ideal that must guide America’s purpose in the world today.  And while we are determined to defend our freedoms and liberties at all costs, we also reach out to the world again, seeking common cause and higher ground.

Eric Holder:  The Department of Justice plays a unique role on this team. It is incumbent upon those of us who lead the department to ensure not only that the nation is safe, but also that our laws and traditions are respected. There is not a tension between those two. We can and we must ensure that the American people remain secure and that the great constitutional guarantees that define us as a nation are truly valued. For example, working with Republicans and Democrats in Congress, should I be confirmed, we look forward to actually structuring policies that are both protective and consistent with who we are as a nation.

Joe Biden: The President-Elect has assembled a national security team that is poised, in my view, to recapture the totality of America’s strength. Each member of this team shares the goals and the principles that the President-Elect and I have attempted to advance. Each member shares our conviction that strength and wisdom must go hand in hand. Each member believes as we do that America’s security is not a partisan issue. Witness the team.

And Obama’s remarks about “group-think”  during the Q & A:    I assembled this team because I’m a strong believer in strong personalities and strong opinions. I think that’s how the best decisions are made.  One of the dangers in the White House, based on my reading of history, is that you get wrapped up in group think. And everybody agrees with everything and there’s no discussion and there are no dissenting views. So I’m going to be welcoming a vigorous debate inside the White House.

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