Secretary Panetta Gets Not One, But Two New Spokesmen

Jul 19, 2011 1:59pm

gty leon panetta sc 110708 wb Secretary Panetta Gets Not One, But Two New Spokesmen

ABC News’ Kirit Radia (@KiritRadia_ABC) reports:

New Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is getting not one, but two new spokesmen.

George Little arrives today from the CIA where he served as Panetta’s spokesman and Captain John Kirby, who has long been spokesman for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen, will move to the Pentagon public affairs office in August. He’ll continue to serve Mullen until the chairman retires in September. The two will share the briefing responsibilities.

“Both of these guys will be spokesmen for the department. Both of them will have, have the trust and confidence of the secretary,” Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Doug Wilson told reporters in announcing the appointments this morning.

Wilson said both will have access to Panetta and either one or both will be present in his meetings.

“This is a different template than we had with Secretary Gates, but I am very pleased and very confident that this will provide the secretary and our department with the experience and expertise of two very respected individual son military and national security issues across the spectrum,” Wilson said.

The new arrangement does raise some questions about the division of labor, since Capt Kirby is not supposed to answer political questions while in uniform. That could be avoided if the two men brief side by side.

“We are well aware of that issue. John will never be put in position as someone in uniform who will have to be briefing on policy or political issues,” Wilson said this morning, while admitting they have yet to determine how that will work.

Still, there is recent precedent for such a joint spokesmanship. Early in the tenure of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Torie Clark and Navy Vice Admiral John Stufflebeem shared the podium.

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