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PRESS PASS: Leon Panetta

Defense secretary Leon Panetta admitted that, as a Catholic, he grappled with the fact that he was making life and death decisions as head of the CIA, authorizing drone strikes against alleged terrorist. 

"It doesn't come lightly," Panetta said. "You've gotta really think about it."

Panetta, who will retire once his successor is confirmed, told Chuck Todd in this week's PRESS Pass interview he believes it would be beneficial to have more oversight and transparency in the country's drone program. Although, he argues that they "always ought to have the capability to use a covert effort if we have to."

Panetta’s post as the country’s top military leader is just the most recent in a long line of high-profile positions for Leon Panetta over his 40-plus year career in public service. He’s been House budget committee chairman, White House chief of staff, White House Budget Director and CIA director. 

When asked to reflect on his long career, Panetta smiled and said, "It's been a hell of a ride."

You can watch the entire PRESS Pass conversation with Leon Panetta above to hear more on his 40 year career including what advice he would give incoming White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on how to handle his new job.