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Thomas Donilon

63 - Thomas Donilon
2012 Rank: 1

Distinguished Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
Donilon left his post this year as one of Obama’s closest and most trusted confidants. He was an integral player in every major national security policy decision and operation since assuming the position. A lawyer, Donilon never served in the military, and his previous administration jobs — he was a State Department spokesman and chief of staff during the Clinton administration — were not the classic background for the role. But Donilon had Obama’s ear and played a part in everything from setting troop levels in Afghanistan to the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Donilon had his share of critics, but his years at Obama’s side mean their legacies are intertwined, and he remains close to his former White House colleagues.

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