Clinton, Gates Named To National Security Team President-elect Obama named more of the people he wants to run the federal bureaucracy. As expected, he announced Monday that he will nominate Sen. Hillary Clinton to become secretary of state. If confirmed, she would work with foreign policy adviser Susan Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

Clinton, Gates Named To National Security Team

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It's Morning Edition from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm Renee Montagne. President-elect Obama today made public what has long been expected. He will nominate Senator Hillary Clinton to be his secretary of state.

President-elect BARACK OBAMA: She is an American of tremendous stature who will have my complete confidence, who knows many of the world's leaders, who will command respect in every capital, and who will clearly have the ability to advance our interests around the world.

MONTAGNE: Hillary Clinton will be part of a new national security team that includes other familiar faces. Robert Gates, the current secretary of defense, will stay on at the Pentagon. For national security adviser, Mr. Obama has chosen retired Marine General James Jones, formerly NATO commander, and before that the commandant of the Marine Corps. Joining us now is NPR's intelligence correspondent, Tom Gjelten. Good morning.

TOM GJELTEN: Morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: These are what I think you could call safe choices.

GJELTEN: No doubt about it, Renee. I would say this team, the appointment, this designation, really is an echo of the economic team that Mr. Obama announced last Monday. Very much an experienced group of people, middle of the road, well respected. We already know, for example, that leading Republicans are feeling comfortable with these choices. They have praised them. And I think that same characterization could go for Eric Holder as attorney general and Janet Napolitano. A very non-controversial, experienced group of people he has selected here.

MONTAGNE: Well, the most dramatic pick could certainly be the designation of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. And President-elect Obama introduced her as his good friend. Quick thoughts on what's likely - on what that nomination's likely to mean?

GJELTEN: Well, you know, Renee, I was caught by what he said in the clip that you played at the top there, that she is one of the best-known women in the world, really familiar with people around the world. I think that this will draw attention to the State Department. I think that really this pick really positions an Obama administration to do as he said he intends to do, to put a new emphasis on diplomacy. She's a very well-regarded, well-known person around the world. I think this designation itself really puts the State Department back in the forefront of foreign policy.

MONTAGNE: Now we've been seeing Robert Gates at the Pentagon for nearly two years. General Jones a little less well-known. What can you tell us about him?

GJELTEN: He's a combat veteran. And as commandant of the Marine Corps and as NATO commander, he's a real veteran of interagency work. So he is someone who can really stand up for himself and really enforce some discipline on this national security team, I'd say.

MONTAGNE: Well, just finally, Mr. Obama's whole campaign was based on the idea of change. He emphasized his early opposition to the war in Iraq. Can you see a theme here as far as how he would approach foreign policy and national security issues?

GJELTEN: I think the first thing we see, Renee, is a recognition that the United States is right now in a dangerous situation - two wars, growing terrorist threat. This team really reflects, I think, Mr. Obama's awareness that this is not the time to rock the boat with new changes. I think that he is really emphasizing here pragmatism, stability, steadiness. Those are the keynotes of this team, I would say.

MONTAGNE: NPR intelligence correspondent Tom Gjelten on the picks that President-elect Obama has made for his national security team. Thanks very much.

GJELTEN: You bet.

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