Clinton fills openings in Cabinet President nominates Albright for State, Cohen for Defense

Bipartisan team for 2nd term

Lake to head CIA

Berger is appointed security adviser

December 06, 1996|By Carl M. Cannon | Carl M. Cannon,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON -- President Clinton tapped Madeleine K. Albright, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, yesterday to be the first woman to serve as secretary of state and reached across party lines to nominate Republican Sen. William S. Cohen of Maine as defense secretary.

As part of a second term shake-up of his national security team, the president also replaced departing CIA Director John M. Deutch with national security adviser Anthony Lake and elevated Lake's deputy, Samuel "Sandy" Berger, to the National Security Council job.

In an Oval Office ceremony, Clinton and his appointees stressed their intention to fashion a bipartisan foreign policy.

"Each of these individuals has remarkable qualities of intellect, energy and leadership," Clinton said. "All are committed to work together as a team that will rise above partisanship and rise to the challenges of meeting the opportunities, of dealing with the challenges that we all face."

Clinton's foreign policy apparatus has been characterized by a harmony within the administration unmatched by its recent predecessors. Yet that spirit of cooperation has not impressed Republicans on Capitol Hill, who say the president has failed to assert American leadership on a variety of fronts.

With yesterday's appointments, the president signaled that he wants congressional Republicans on board during his second term. His new appointees followed his lead.

"I must say that my entire congressional career has been devoted to pursuing a national security policy that is without partisanship," Cohen said.

The selections were hailed across the political spectrum, from liberal feminist leaders to conservative North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms, a critic of Clinton's foreign policy.

"President Clinton has been the best president in history in terms of recognizing and promoting women to important positions," said Donna Lenhoff, general counsel of the Women's Legal Defense Fund. "Now, finally, we have one at the highest level inside the inner circle."

Helms, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, noted that he had not always agreed with Albright, but pronounced her "a tough and courageous lady." He, too, called for a new spirit of bipartisanship in foreign policy.

Although he spoke highly of the appointments, Republican Sen. John W. Warner of Virginia, a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, predicted that Albright's Senate confirmation hearings would be an occasion for a "very long" and critical inquiry into Clinton's foreign policy.

"She's fully capable of handling all those questions and surviving," Warner said.

Albright, 59, made no apologies yesterday for the first term. "During the past four years we have had a skilled and successful foreign policy team." And in appreciation of Secretary of State Warren Christopher, the man she is to replace, Albright quipped: "I can only hope that my heels can fill your shoes."

Lake, 57, is to take over perhaps the most troubled agency in the national security field. The CIA recently has been rocked by the ++ second major spy scandal during the Clinton administration.

Shy and bespectacled, Lake seems an unlikely candidate to take control of the nation's intelligence apparatus. A college professor before joining the Clinton administration, Lake speaks softly and is known for his passion for Rotisserie League baseball. His resume includes an education at Harvard, Oxford and Princeton universities and stints in the State Department, including service in Vietnam. He advised Presidents Carter and Nixon and left the Nixon administration in protest over the bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War.

Berger, a 51-year-old attorney, is the only one of the group who could be considered a Democratic pol. A former congressional staff aide, Berger appears to enjoy an easy rapport with the president, who talks politics and policy with him.

Following through

In 1992, Clinton all but promised to put Republicans in his administration, but did not follow through. In the waning days of this year's campaign, however, the president suggested that he would look at Republicans for key posts.

According to the outgoing White House chief of staff, Leon E. Panetta, Clinton already had Cohen in mind when he began dropping those hints. Three or four weeks before Election Day, Panetta said, the first meetings were held on the subject of second-term staffing.

Once it became known that Christopher and Secretary of Defense William J. Perry wanted to leave after the election, Albright and Cohen quickly cropped up on the short list to fill the posts. Others mentioned included Deutch, former Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell of Maine, retiring Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia and longtime diplomat Richard C. Holbrooke.

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