Obama to Announce Susan Rice as His New National Security Advisor

Susan Rice is currently US ambassador to the United Nations

From Mark Landler, New York Times:  In a major shakeup of President Obama’s foreign-policy inner circle, Tom Donilon, the national security adviser, is resigning and will be replaced by Susan E. Rice , the American ambassador to the United Nations, White House officials said on Tuesday.

The appointment, which Mr. Obama plans to make on Wednesday afternoon, puts Ms. Rice, 48, an outspoken diplomat and a close political ally, at the heart of the administration’s foreign-policy apparatus.

It is also a defiant gesture to Republicans who harshly criticized Ms. Rice for presenting an erroneous account of the deadly attacks on the American mission in Benghazi, Libya. The post of national security adviser, while powerful, does not require Senate confirmation.

Mr. Obama also plans to nominate a new envoy to the United Nations on Wednesday, but the name of the nominee was not yet disclosed. . . .

Mr. Donilon, whose departure is effective early July, said he had planned to leave after Mr. Obama’s first term but stayed on at the president’s request to break in a new team led by Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John O. Brennan.

He pointed to the unusual harmony among Cabinet heavyweights like former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, and chalked up reports of unhappy subordinates to the relentless grind of working in the White House.

“I cherish my staff,” he said. “They are a national treasure.”

Mr. [Dennis] McDonough said Mr. Donilon’s greatest policy legacy would be his role in engineering the pivot to Asia. In a statement, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., said, “I’ve worked with eight different administrations and even more national security advisers, and I’ve never met anyone with more talent and with greater strategic judgment. . . .” 

For Ms. Rice, the appointment amounts to redemption after she withdrew from consideration as secretary of state because Republicans threatened to block her nomination over Benghazi.

Mr. Obama steadfastly defended Ms. Rice, and after he nominated John Kerry instead of her, White House officials said she became the front-runner to succeed Mr. Donilon, who has been in the job since October 2010 and had been the principal deputy before that.

A Rhodes Scholar who holds a doctorate in international affairs from Oxford University, Ms. Rice began her government career on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration, serving as senior director for African affairs from 1995 to 1997.

A foreign policy adviser to then-Senator Obama during his 2008 campaign, Ms. Rice was viewed as a potential national security adviser in his first term. Mr. Obama instead sent her to the United Nations and chose Gen. James L. Jones, a former Marine Corps commandant. . . .

Unlike Mr. Donilon, Ms. Rice is known for her outspoken views on human rights and other issues. She advocated the NATO-led military intervention in Libya, for example. That raises a question of how she will approach the job of national security adviser, which has traditionally functioned as a broker among competing agencies.

Mr. Donilon has said his model was Brent Scowcroft, the influential adviser to President George H.W. Bush. A tireless student of the bureaucratic process, Mr. Donilon favors exhaustive preparation over seat-of-the-pants advice. He prided himself on delivering a daily briefing to Mr. Obama more than 800 times – scheduling overseas trips on weekends to avoid missing that ritual.  (photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

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