Obama picks Victoria Nuland for assistant state secretary, Douglas Lute for NATO


Former U.S. ambassador to NATO Victoria Nuland visits Skopje, Macedonia, in this April 9, 2008 file photo. (OGNEN TEOFILOVSKI/Reuters)

President Obama said Thursday that he plans to nominate Victoria Nuland as assistant secretary of state for Europe and retired Gen. Douglas E. Lute as ambassador to NATO.

Nuland, the former State Department spokeswoman, has been accused by Republicans of helping mislead Congress and the public about last year’s attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

Although Nuland is a career Foreign Service officer with previous European experience, her prospects for the nomination were thought to have been compromised by the controversy over September’s terrorist attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi.

Coordinating the State Department’s input to proposed administration talking points soon after the attack, Nuland e-mailed CIA and White House officials with objections to identifying a known terrorist group as the likely perpetrator and including previous warnings about possible threats, according to e-mails released last week by the administration.

House Republicans have accused the administration of playing down the role of terrorists in the attacks for political reasons. They have specifically said Nuland played a part in that.

From 2003 to 2005, Nuland served as principal deputy national security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Lute joined the White House National Security Council staff in 2007 as assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan. He stayed on to handle Afghanistan and Pakistan under Obama.

He retired from active duty in the Army as a lieutenant general in 2010 after 35 years of service.

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