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Who Are Donilon, Rice and Power?

  • Ralph Eckhardt

From left: Tom Donilon, Susan Rice, Samantha Power

From left: Tom Donilon, Susan Rice, Samantha Power

National Security Adviser Tom Donilon speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Thursday, May 17, 2012.

National Security Adviser Tom Donilon speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Thursday, May 17, 2012.

Thomas E. Donilon, Outgoing National Security Adviser

Fifty-eight-year-old Tom Donilon has been a key foreign policy adviser to President Barack Obama since helping the administration transition team at the State Department following the 2008 election. He was named deputy to National Security Adviser James Jones when Mr. Obama took office, and succeeded Jones in the top spot in October 2010.

He has overseen a foreign policy that put increased emphasis on the U.S. relationship with Asia, played key roles in counterterrorism strategy, including the death of Osama bin Laden, and in managing U.S. ties with Russia.

Donilon served as assistant secretary of state for public affairs from 1993-1996, during former president Bill Clinton's administration. Later, he worked as executive vice president for law and policy at the federally chartered mortgage finance company Fannie Mae, and as a registered lobbyist from 1999 through 2005.

Donilon graduated from the Catholic University of America and received a law degree from the University of Virginia. His wife, Catherine M. Russell, is chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden's wife, Jill. His brother Mike is counselor to the vice president.

Watch related video by VOA's Margaret Besheer:


U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice votes to tighten sanctions on North Korea at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, March 7, 2013.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice votes to tighten sanctions on North Korea at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, March 7, 2013.

Susan E. Rice, National Security Adviser-Designate

Forty-eight-year-old Susan Rice has been U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations since President Obama took office.

She has been a lightning rod for Republican criticism over faulty explanations for the attack last year that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya. Rice said in television interviews the attacks were spontaneous, which was proven incorrect.

Rice was mentioned as a possible replacement for retiring Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after President Obama's November re-election. But following ongoing controversy related to the September 2012 Benghazi attack she withdrew her name from consideration, saying that if nominated the Senate "confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive, and costly." The post of national security adviser does not require Senate confirmation.

Rice served in the Clinton administration in several capacities; at the National Security Council, as director for international organizations and peacekeeping and as special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs.

In the 1980s, Rice was a foreign policy aide to Michael Dukakis during his failed 1988 presidential election campaign.

Rice graduated from Stanford University and was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to attend New College in Oxford, England, where she earned a doctorate in 1990.



Samantha Power receives an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during Brown University's 239th Commencement in Providence, R.I., May 27, 2007

Samantha Power receives an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during Brown University's 239th Commencement in Providence, R.I., May 27, 2007

Samantha Power, UN Ambassador Nominee

Irish-born 42-year-old Samantha Power is a human-rights expert and former White House adviser.

She worked as a foreign-policy adviser for Mr. Obama when he was a U.S. senator and worked on his campaign team in 2008. She stepped down before the election following disclosure of her "off-the-record" critique of Hillary Clinton, who was then Mr. Obama's chief opponent for the presidential nomination, as "a monster."

Power joined the State Department transition team in 2008 and was later named special assistant to President Obama and senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights on the National Security Council. She left the administration in March of this year.

Power won a Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for her book, A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, which examined U.S. foreign policy on genocide in the 20th century. She has taught at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and worked as a journalist, reporting on the war in the Balkans from 1993-96.

Power came to the United States with her family when she was nine years old. She is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School.
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