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Obama's 'in your face' cabinet picks: why he chose Chuck Hagel, John Brennan

President Obama officially nominated Chuck Hagel for Defense secretary and John Brennan for CIA chief Monday. Each brings a unique view of the organization he would lead.

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Current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta speaks Monday in the East Room of the White House in Washington, where President Obama announced that he is nominating John Brennan (r.) as the new CIA director and former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel (l.) as the new Defense secretary.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

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At a White House ceremony Monday, President Obama nominated two controversial picks to round out his national security team: Former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel for secretary of Defense and counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to head the Central Intelligence Agency.

The president acknowledged the contention in announcing his choices. 

Bucking conventional wisdom is, he said, “exactly the spirit I want on my national security team.” 

 

Mr. Obama signaled that he placed a premium on nominees who understand the organizations they will lead from the bottom up.

Mr. Brennan, who worked at the CIA for 25 years, offers the agency “one of your own,” he said.

And Mr. Hagel was an enlisted infantry soldier who earned two Purple Hearts in Vietnam. That gives him a “frame of reference,” Obama said, that is “geared towards the guy at the bottom who’s doing the fighting and the dying.”  

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