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Obama to pick chief intelligence officials
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US President-elect Barack Obama will name former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta to head the Central Investigation Agency (CIA), said media reports on Monday.

According to reports from CNN, MSNBC and the New York Times, the 70-year-old White House veteran is to be named as the CIA director, a key player in the country's anti-terrorism and intelligence efforts.

Citing Democratic officials, the media reported that Obama is also to pick retired Adm. Dennis Blair for National Intelligence Director.

Born in an Italian family in California, Panetta was an activist of student politics. With a bachelor's degree in political science and Juris doctor, he joined the army in 1964.

He was elected as the congressman for California in 1976 and maintained his seat in the House till 1993. Starting 1994, he served as the chief of staff to President Bill Clinton.

However, Obama's choice for the CIA is considered a surprise since Panetta had no experience in the intelligence community, except that he was a member of the Iraq Study Group in 2006, a bipartisan panel that made recommendations to President George W. Bush's administration on the Iraq war.

In contrast with Panetta, Blair, the former head of US Pacific Command, would be named to the post with little surprise.

Blair served in the Navy for 34 years and served as chief of the US Pacific Command during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He was also an expert on China, and worked on cooperation between the military and the CIA.

It is the latest move of Obama's transitional office to complete the new government that is set to take office on January 20.

(Xinhua News Agency January 6, 2009)

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