PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good afternoon, everybody. Please have a seat. As President and Commander-in-Chief, my most solemn obligation is the security of the American people. Over the past four years, we’ve met that responsibility by ending the war in Iraq, and beginning a transition in Afghanistan; by decimating the al Qaeda core and taking out Osama bin Laden; by disrupting terrorist plots and saving countless American lives.
Among an outstanding national security team, I am especially grateful to Leon Panetta, who has led the CIA and our military with incredible skill. Leon, after nearly five decades of service, you have more than earned the right to return to civilian life. I’ll have much more to say about Leon’s distinguished service in the days ahead. Today, I simply want to convey both to you and to Sylvia the eternal gratitude of the entire nation. Thank you so much, Leon.