10 Things You Didn't Know About Leon Panetta

Democratic sources revealed Panetta is Obama's pick to lead the CIA.

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Leon Panetta

1. Leon Edward Panetta was born on June 28, 1938, in Monterey, Calif. His parents, Carmelo and Carmelina, were immigrants from Italy who ran a local cafe. They later purchased a walnut ranch, where the young Panetta spent much of his childhood. He still owns the same ranch house.

2. Panetta attended the Santa Clara University for his undergraduate and graduate studies. He graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's in political science in 1960 and earned his law degree in 1963.

3. Panetta served in the Army from 1964 to 1966. He attended Army Intelligence School and was chief of operations and planning for intelligence at California's Fort Ord.

4. In 1966, Panetta joined the Washington staff of Sen. Thomas Kuchel, a liberal Republican from California. He worked as a legislative assistant.

5. Panetta joined the Nixon administration in 1969 when he was named the director of the Office of Civil Rights. He was forced out within a year after he moved forward with mandated school desegregation efforts more quickly than the administration wished. He wrote a book, Bring Us Togethe r: The Nixon Team and the Civil Rights Retreat, about his experiences there.

6. After his time in the Nixon administration, Panetta switched his party affiliation to Democrat. He spent a year working as executive assistant to New York City Mayor John Lindsay and then returned to California to practice law.

7. In 1976, Panetta was elected to the House of Representatives from California. He was a popular and powerful representative, becoming chair of the House Budget Committee. He would be re-elected eight times.

8. In 1992, Bill Clinton nominated Panetta to head the Office of Management and Budget. Two years later, he became White House chief of staff, a pick perceived as one designed to bring experience to the Clinton team.

9. Since leaving the Clinton White House in 1997, Panetta has remained active in public life. He is codirector of a think tank, the Leon and Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy at California State University—Monterey Bay. He also served on the Iraq Study Group and the Board of Directors for the New York Stock Exchange and has taught at Santa Clara University. 

10. Panetta has been married to his wife, Sylvia, since 1962. She has long been involved in her husband's work: She codirects the Panetta Institute, and she ran Panetta's district offices while he was in Congress. They have three adult sons (Christopher, Carmelo, and James), and five grandchildren.