Obama Team Names Nunn as Pentagon Transition Adviser
President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team confirmed today that former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) has signed on as an adviser to assist with the new administration’s move into the Defense Department.
The announcement, from Obama-Biden transition spokesperson Stephanie Cutter, comes on the heels of a report from The Associated Press that, in addition to Nunn, the transition team tapped former Secretary of State Warren Christopher under President Bill Clinton to advise the administration’s transition at the State Dept. Cutter issued a statement this morning taking issue with part of The Associated Press’ story:
“Senator Sam Nunn will play an informal senior advisor role throughout the defense transition process. His expertise and the respect he has earned will be invaluable to ensure a smooth transition. Secretary Christopher is deeply respected in the United States and throughout the international community. However, he is not playing a role in the transition process. There’s a lot of disinformation out there. We’re working hard to put the agency review teams together and expect they’ll be announced this week and inside the agencies by the end of the week.”
The selection of Nunn, who is regarded as a moderate with a record of bipartisanship, signals an openness in the new administration and willingness to work with Congressional Republicans. Nunn, a former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is perhaps best known for his work in enacting arms control legislation following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, and is considered one of the nation’s top national security experts.
Most notably, Nunn’s presence on the transition team suggests he is not being considered to replace Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in the new administration, for which he was previously mentioned. However, Nunn praised Gates’ nomination for the position in 2006, and the selection could be a sign of Obama’s willingness to keep Gates on the job after Inauguration Day.