Petraeus Scandal Disrupts Obama's Cabinet Changes

The scandal enveloping two former generals comes as Obama chooses a second-term cabinet.

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Barack Obama and David Petraeus talk as they take a helicopter ride over Baghdad, Iraq, July 21, 2008.
Barack Obama and David Petraeus talk as they take a helicopter ride over Baghdad, Iraq, July 21, 2008.

President Obama's planned reshuffling of his foreign policy and national security team has suddenly gotten more complicated and daunting because of the resignation of David Petraeus as director of central intelligence.

Before he quit in the midst of a sex scandal, Petraeus was one of the administration's stars, as he had been as an Army general during George W. Bush's presidency. Petraeus's sudden departure means there is now another slot for Obama to fill.

[WALSH: Obama Likely to Put Fresh Team in Place]

Among those considered likely to leave their jobs at the start of Obama's second term next year are Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, two of the most senior and respected cabinet officers in government today.

Among those considered possible successors to Clinton at State are U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and Sen. John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat who is a specialist in foreign affairs. But Rice could face trouble at Senate confirmation hearings because of her controversial initial explanation of the lethal attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Barack Obama and David Petraeus talk as they take a helicopter ride over Baghdad, Iraq, July 21, 2008.
Barack Obama and David Petraeus talk as they take a helicopter ride over Baghdad, Iraq, July 21, 2008.

['ALL IN': The 15 Funniest Petraeus Headlines]

Kerry is also considered a possible successor to Panetta at Defense, as is White House national security adviser Tom Donilon and Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.

Among those considered possible successors to Petraeus at the CIA is acting CIA director Michael Morell.

Gen. John Allen, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, is now caught up in controversy because of potentially inappropriate E-mails he sent to a Florida socialite who is part of the brouhaha involving Petraeus. Allen's appointment to be the new commander of U.S. forces in Europe has been delayed in the Senate while the E-mail controversy is investigated.

[ENJOY: Petraeus Scandal Cartoons

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said President Obama "is not going to make grand pronouncements or decisions" about personnel changes at this time. "He's focused on the missions the military is tasked with carrying out and the CIA, the general intelligence community, is tasked with carrying out, and with carrying out his own agenda, which includes not just national security policy but domestic policy," Carney told reporters.

Other Obama advisers who are expected to head for the exit next year include Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

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  • Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com, and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at kwalsh@usnews.com and on Facebook or Twitter.