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Panetta on staying as Pentagon chief: 'Who the hell knows?'

13 november 2012, 17:41
0
Pentagon chief Leon Panetta, a longtime veteran of Washington politics, sidestepped questions Monday about whether he would quit his post as expected and retire, AFP reports.

"Who the hell knows?" Panetta joked when asked if he would stay on for another four years through President Barack Obama's second term.

He acknowledged he was anxious after a decades-long career in Washington to retire to his native California.

But he suggested he would remain on the job at least in the short-term with major budget issues and strategic decisions on the war in Afghanistan pending.

"It's no secret that at some point I'd like to get back to California to my home and the institute," he said, referring to the think-tank he founded and currently led by his wife.

"But there are a lot of challenges right now with regards to defense issues in Washington," said Panetta, citing planning for a troop drawdown in Afghanistan and a looming deadline on the country's budget and debt.

Panetta, 74, served as CIA director for two years before moving over to the Pentagon in 2011. He was an influential Democrat in Congress for years and then served as budget czar and chief-of-staff under former president Bill Clinton.

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