1. News & Issues
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Leon E. Panetta

23rd U.S. Secretary of Defense

By

23rd United States Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta

23rd United States Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta

Central Intelligence Agency
Updated February 28, 2013

Leon E. Panetta served under President Barak Obama as the nation's 23rd Secretary of Defense. Nominated by President Obama to replace retiring Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Panetta was confirmed by a unanimous vote of the Senate on June 21, 2001.

Relevant Experience

Prior to his confirmation as Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta served as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from February 13, 2009 to June 30, 2011. From July 1994 to January 1997, Mr. Panetta served as Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton. Prior to that, he was Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). As a member of Congress, Panetta represented California's 16th (now 17th) District in the House of Representatives from 1977 to 1993. During his final four years in Congress, Panetta served as chairman of the influential House Budget Committee.

Early in his career, Mr. Panetta served as a legislative assistant to Senator Thomas H. Kuchel of California, special assistant to the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, director of the U.S. Office for Civil Rights, and executive assistant to Mayor John Lindsay of New York. He also spent five years in private law practice. He served as an Army intelligence officer from 1964 to 1966 and received the Army Commendation Medal.

Early Life and Education

Leon Panetta was born in Monterey, California, on June 28, 1938. He graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Santa Clara University in 1960, and received a Juris Doctor from Santa Clara University School of Law in 1963. Panetta joined the U.S. Army in 1964 as a Second Lieutenant. During his service, he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal, and was discharged as a First Lieutenant in 1966.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.