The Washington Post

Deputy to NSA Donilon: a sweet stepping stone

All the NSA’s men: Working for NSA head Tom Donilon is a good stepping stone. (Chip Somodevilla/GETTY IMAGES)

Michael Froman, the Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs who President Obama nominated last week to be U.S. Trade Rep, is only the latest of Donilon’s right hand men to rise to a lofty spot of his own.

Others in the Donilon-Deputy Alumni Club include Denis McDonough, who’s now Obama’s chief of staff, and CIA Director John Brennan, who was Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. (And it’s worth noting that Donilon himself was the Deputy NSA before becoming the head honcho.)

The perch is a good one, observers say, since you have a finger in nearly every policy pie — and because Donilon is thought to do a good job of empowering his people. Perhaps most importantly, deputy NSAs develop relationships with key players, and have the president’s ear, which makes for a good recipe for career advancement.

Assuming the pattern holds, what might we expect for Donilon’s current No. 2, Tony Blinken?

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.

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