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Former CIA director, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to speak at SIU online event
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Former CIA director, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to speak at SIU online event

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CARBONDALE — Former U.S. Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Leon Panetta will discuss the nation’s foreign policy and the upcoming presidential election as part of a virtual discussion on Wednesday.

The event will be hosted by Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. The conversation with John T. Shaw, institute director, will also look at the economic challenges facing the United States. Panetta, a former congressman from California who served in several roles for presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, now chairs The Panetta Institute for Public Policy at California State University, Monterey Bay.

The discussion begins at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, July 1. The free event is open to the public but registration is required and closes when the event starts. Registration for the free ZOOM meeting is available in advance at After completing registration, participants will receive an email confirmation with information about joining the meeting, along with the meeting ID and password.

Participants have an opportunity when they register to submit a question to Panetta by email at They can also include it in the "Questions and Comments” section on the registration form.

Panetta “will be a wonderful addition to the institute’s Understanding Our New World series,” Shaw said in a news release. “He will offer important insights about the economic and foreign policy challenges confronting the United States.”

Panetta served as President Obama’s CIA director from February 2009 to June 2011 and as secretary of defense from July 2011 to February 2013. A nine-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Panetta was a member of the House’s budget committee from 1979 to 1993 and served as chair from 1989 to 1993.

Panetta left Congress in 1993 to be director of the Office of Management and Budget for President Clinton and in 1994 became Clinton’s White House chief of staff until 1997. Panetta and his wife, Sylvia, established The Panetta Institute for Public Policy in 1997.

Through the years, Panetta has been a regular guest on numerous network and cable shows providing insight on various foreign and domestic issues facing the nation. His memoir, “Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace," was published in 2014.

The discussion with Panetta is part of the institute’s series with historians, political analysts, and state and national leaders. This is the ninth in the series, which began in late April, and has featured speakers including author/historian David M. Kennedy, former United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, and Rahm Emanuel, former Chicago mayor, U.S. Congressman and White House adviser.

“There are very few people in American history who have served in as many senior positions in government or who have been as highly regarded as Leon Panetta,” Shaw said. “He held a senior leadership position in Congress and served as the White House budget director, the White House chief of staff, the head of the CIA, and the secretary of defense. His expertise is both wide and deep and he carries it lightly, with infectious good humor.”


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