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Leon Panetta

October 28, 2011 | By Steve Chawkins, Los Angeles Times
The U.S. government offered a $25-million bounty for Osama bin Laden, but there was a lesser-known enticement for then-CIA chief Leon Panetta: a sip or two of Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1870, one of the world's most celebrated wines. Last year, Panetta attended an annual New Year's Eve gathering hosted by Monterey restaurateur Ted Balestreri, who was chided by some of his 28 guests about the $10,000 bottle of wine sitting in his wine cellar. Asked when he would finally uncork it, he answered: "When Leon catches Bin Laden.
October 6, 2011 | By David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times
Despite pressure from some NATO allies to halt the bombing in Libya, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta on Thursday said alliance warplanes will keep flying as long as combat persists between the provisional government's fighters and forces loyal to deposed leader Moammar Kadafi. "If there continues to be serious fighting, if there continues to be threats to the civilian population, then I'm sure this mission will continue," Panetta told reporters after two days of meetings with defense chiefs and military commanders at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters here.
October 5, 2011 | By David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times
The Obama administration is urging Egypt's military government to repeal a sweeping law giving it the right to detain people without charge, arguing that failure to lift the statute would taint upcoming parliamentary elections. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta raised American concern about the emergency law in talks Tuesday in Cairo with Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, chief of the ruling military council, and other Egyptian officials. "The response I got back is that they are seriously looking at the first opportunity" to lift the emergency law, Panetta said.
September 1, 2011 | By David S. Cloud, Washington Bureau
Shortly after Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta took office July 1, he boarded a U.S. Air Force jet and flew home to California for a three-day weekend. He has flown home five weekends since then and has spent part of a two-week vacation there. Aides say that unless he is required to stay in Washington or travel elsewhere, Panetta will spend most weekends and days off at his 12-acre walnut farm in scenic Carmel Valley, where he and his wife, Sylvia, make their home. It is common for members of Congress to fly back to their districts every weekend or so, and Panetta did so when he represented Monterey in the House from 1977 to 1993, and as CIA director, his first job in the Obama administration.
August 24, 2011 | By Kim Geiger
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta on Tuesday praised the NATO mission that has been assisting rebel forces in their effort to overthrow Libyan dictator Moammar Kadafi, saying the rebels had made “significant gains,” thanks in large part to the help of NATO forces. Speaking at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., Panetta said that while the situation in Libya  remained uncertain, it was “clear that the regime forces are collapsing and that Kadafi's days are numbered.” “It is a credit to the great job of nations working together on a common mission, something that is absolutely essential if we are to provide security in the future,” he said.
August 4, 2011 | By David S. Cloud
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Thursday that deeper cuts in the defense budget risked hollowing out the military and would hamper Pentagon efforts to deal with rising powers such as China, North Korea and Iran.   It was the second day in a row that Panetta issued a public warning to Congress not to go beyond the roughly $400 billion in defense cuts required over the next decade under the debt reduction bill signed this week by President Obama.   Speaking to reporters at his first Pentagon news conference, Panetta called on Congress to raise tax revenue and cut mandatory spending programs, which include Medicare and Social Security, rather than slash defense further.
August 4, 2011 | By David S. Cloud, Washington Bureau
Senior Pentagon officials sought Wednesday to head off additional reductions in defense spending in coming months, warning that thousands of Defense Department employees might have to be furloughed or laid off and that across-the-board cuts in military programs would jeopardize national security. A day after President Obama signed a debt reduction bill that requires as much as $400 billion in Pentagon spending reduction over the next decade, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and other senior officials contended that Congress should look elsewhere in the federal budget for additional savings or raise taxes, rather than cut defense spending further.
July 22, 2011 | By David S. Cloud, Washington Bureau
Pentagon officials will announce Friday that the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the armed services can be lifted without harming militaryreadiness, a step that is likely to end the controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy in September, Defense Department officials said. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Adm. Michael G. Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are recommending to President Obama that he proceed with final repeal of the policy that has been in place for nearly two decades, the officials said.
July 12, 2011 | By David S. Cloud and Ned Parker, Los Angeles Times
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta told Iraq's leaders Monday that they must decide soon whether to ask for U.S. troops to remain beyond the end of the year. But the U.S. does not intend to broker negotiations among Iraqi politicians that could ultimately lead to agreement for a continuing presence, senior American officials said. Panetta's visit stood in sharp contrast to past tours by high-ranking U.S. officials under the George W. Bush administration or even by Vice President Joe Biden in trying to push Iraqi leaders to take action.
July 11, 2011 | By David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said Sunday that weapons supplied by Iran are behind a rash of attacks against American forces in Iraq, part of an escalating campaign of violence ahead of the planned U.S. troop withdrawal by the end of the year. "We're seeing more of those weapons going in from Iran, and they've really hurt us," said Panetta, who arrived in Baghdad on an unannounced visit after a two-day stop in Afghanistan. U.S. officials said 15 U.S. troops were killed in June, the most in any month in two years.
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