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White House counterterrorism chief resigns

From John King and Kelly Wallace
CNN Washington

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The White House announced Thursday that retired Army Gen. Wayne Downing is resigning his post as deputy national security adviser for counterterrorism, to be replaced by retired Air Force Gen. John Gordon, an expert in nuclear security.

Downing took the newly created post last October as part of the White House response to the September 11 attacks. His main responsibility, according to a White House release, was to organize and staff the National Security Council's office focused on combating terrorism, and an office of intelligence detection within the Office of Homeland Security.

At that time, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge called Downing "a leader who understands terrorism, how terrorists are organized and what it takes to defeat them."

Energy Dept. biography of Gen. John Gordon 

Gordon currently is the undersecretary of energy for nuclear security, and served on the National Security Council in the administration of the president's father, President George H.W. Bush. He also served as deputy director of the CIA during the Clinton administration, from October 1997 through June 2000.

A senior administration official told CNN that Downing is not stepping down due to any frustration with the White House or any concern he did not have enough influence within the West Wing. This official told CNN that such suggestions are "Washington hooey."

"He came out of military retirement and basically answered the call of duty again," the official said. "He accomplished the initial task ... he's going to stay in close contact with the administration."

Downing first retired in 1996 and has said he had enjoyed his more relaxed life when work consisted in large part of fine-tuning his trout-fishing technique in Colorado.

Downing said last year he would not have returned to service unless there was a national emergency. "It is a national emergency," he said.




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