As with every president's second administration, President Obama’s will be going through some major Cabinet reshuffling. To make matters decidedly more difficult, a few unexpected upheavals are currently in play.
On top of Gen. David Petraeus’s unfolding scandal and hasty resignation, we have another high-level general embroiled. The fallout from the swift descent of the director of the CIA is getting messier, with head of Afghan operations, Gen. John Allen’s Senate confirmation as top NATO official now in jeopardy.
Allen, a four-star general, is reportedly under a military investigation because of inappropriate email correspondence with Jill Kelley, the other woman who catapulted the FBI into the probe of Petraeus’ extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. The looming Benghazi hearings are another source of ire for this administration.
While the administration juggles and attempts to sort out those sordid detours, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham-Clinton is reportedly leaving, with a possible replacement being Susan Rice, the current US Ambassador to the United Nations. However, several Republicans are opposed to Rice’s appointment, accusing her of being part of a coverup in the terror attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. Rice could be replaced at the UN by VP Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Antony Blinken, or by Samantha Power, senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights at the National Security Council.
There is also talk of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) being picked for the Department of Defense position, replacing Leon Panetta, as well as buzz about him replacing Clinton. Other names being thrown around for Defense Secretary are the current Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter as well as the former Undersecretary for Policy at the Pentagon, Michele Flournoy. However, Panetta’s departure is not certain, for when asked by reporters travelling with him to Australia about his time-line for leaving, he answered, “Who the hell knows.”
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is also slated to leave after the president’s inauguration in January. As for a permanent replacement for Petraeus as CIA director, The Washington Post has pegged John Brennan, the president’s chief counter-terrorism adviser, assuming he wants the position. If not, the acting head Michael Morell, is most likely to stay.
All the above is speculation of course, for no official announcements have been made at this stage.
During a news conference held around 1 p.m. Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney gave some brief answers on the Petraeus scandal and said that the president had spoken to key leaders around the world about the Petraeus resignation.
When asked what Obama’s take was on the scandal, and whether he trusted Allen to effectively carry out his job in Afghanistan, Carney said that the president trusted the general and "thinks very highly of him." He added that he also fully supported the troops there. Carney stated that though the president was surprised by his resignation, he respected Petraeus and “believes he had done an excellent job” as head of the CIA.
Weigh in: Do you think that this current scandal will negatively impact the Obama administration's foreign policy?
Press conference source: CNN Live television broadcast.
Read more on Obama’s cabinet reshuffle here: Obama considering Kerry for defense secretary