Clinton appoints 8 policy veterans to security posts Aspin gets Defense, Christopher State, Albright the U.N.

December 23, 1992|By Susan Baer | Susan Baer,Staff Writer

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Filling his key national security positions yesterday, President-elect Bill Clinton assembled a team of foreign policy veterans to preside over what he called the "turbo-charged" climate of the post-Cold War era.

As expected, Mr. Clinton named his transition director, Warren M. Christopher, to be secretary of state, calling the 67-year-old lawyer and statesman "a friend I want nearby." Mr. Christopher was deputy secretary of state under President Jimmy Carter.

Rounding out the diplomatic and security team, the president-elect appointed:

* Rep. Les Aspin, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, as secretary of defense.

* Anthony Lake, former Carter aide and professor of international affairs at Mount Holyoke College, as national security adviser.

* Madeline Albright, former Carter aide and longtime Democratic foreign policy adviser, as ambassador to the United Nations.

* James Woolsey, undersecretary of the Navy during the Carter administration, to direct the CIA.

Mr. Clinton tapped Clifton R. Wharton Jr., CEO of the world's largest private pension fund and the first black admitted to the Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies, as deputy secretary of state.

He also named Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger, a Washington lawyer and a chief foreign policy adviser to Mr. Clinton during and after the campaign, as deputy national security adviser.

Although not present at yesterday's press conference, retired Adm. William J. Crowe Jr., former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff in the Reagan and Bush administrations, was named chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

Obviously suffering again from a throat ailment that made his voice almost inaudible yesterday, Mr. Clinton repeatedly stressed the dangerous and "very volatile" nature of the post-Cold War age as he announced his team of experienced, familiar players.

He defended his choices against charges that they hardly represented his campaign battle cry of "change" by saying:

"I don't think that you can make change in an area this important unless you also know what has to be maintained, unless you have people of real seasoning and judgment."

Although many of his appointees worked in the Carter administration -- the only Democratic administration in the last 24 years -- Mr. Clinton dismissed the notion that his foreign policy would be a replay of the Carter agenda.

"To say that this is a team of retreads . . . would be totally unfair to this sterling and diverse array of Americans," he said.

If confirmed as defense secretary, Mr. Aspin, a Wisconsin Democrat, will have to deal with the explosive issue of lifting the ban on homosexuals in the military, a step Mr. Clinton has said he plans to set in motion.

Mr. Aspin, who in the past has indicated he agrees with overturning the 50-year-old ban, said yesterday he believes the current policy has "serious flaws in equity and fairness."

He added that the Pentagon would deal with the subject boldly. "There will be no chance to try and patch up the old program or side-slip the issue," he said. "We'll have to deal with it head-on, and that's a good thing."

Mr. Aspin's move to the executive branch puts Rep. Ronald V. Dellums, a California Democrat, in line to become chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

An outspoken opponent of U.S. involvement in the Persian Gulf war, Mr. Dellums is one of the most liberal members of Congress, one who supports bigger cuts in the military budget than most Democrats and Republicans.

On the heels of Monday's attack on women's groups who have criticized the pace of his female appointments, Mr. Clinton added one more woman to his ranks yesterday with the selection of Ms. Albright as U.N. ambassador. Calling it "one of the most critical foreign policy positions," Mr. Clinton said he planned to elevate the post to Cabinet status.

Ms. Albright, president of a national policy think tank in Washington and professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, served as a national security aide in the Carter White House and also as an adviser in the Democratic presidential campaigns of Walter F. Mondale and Michael S. Dukakis.

Mr. Wharton is the past president of Michigan State University and past chancellor of the State University of New York system. The first black to receive a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago , he served in the State Department during the Carter and Reagan administrations.

He heads the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association and the College Retirement Equities Fund. With assets of $112 billion, TIAA-CREF is the world's largest private pension fund.

Mr. Clinton is now butting up against the Christmas deadline he set for himself to complete his Cabinet appointments.

Still to be named are secretaries of transportation, interior and agriculture, and the attorney general.

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