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Mike Mullen

60 - Mike Mullen
2012 Rank: 38

Former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Today an advocate for veterans and wounded warriors, Mullen retired as chairman of the Joint Chiefs in 2011, an admiral who led the military through two ground wars. After spending nearly 50 years in uniform, including holding some of the nation’s top military jobs, Mullen’s influence will be felt for decades. He remains one of Washington’s sought-after minds, thoughtful, politically savvy as well innovative and open minded — his support for gays serving openly in the military was instrumental in the historic scrapping of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” One attribute that made him one of the most successful chairmen was his willingness to continuously talk to the public to drive the defense agenda — and debate. In the last year, however, he’s mostly been mentioned because of his involvement as one of the leads on the State Department’s investigation into the 2012 attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, including US ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. Tapped for his nonpartisan expertise, Mullen and legendary diplomat Tom Pickering found no evidence of wrongdoing in their exhaustive report, but the GOP remains convinced Benghazi is a political weapon in the anti-Obama toolbox, so Mullen will continue to be part of the debate for a long time to come.

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