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For over four decades Leon Panetta has been at the top of the American political tree. Now he has stepped down from his final job as US defence secretary.

In a formal ceremony the man whose career included that of lawmaker, top white official and spy chief was thanked by President Barack Obama who focussed on one particular achievement when Panetta headed the CIA.

“Your leadership of the CIA will forever be remembered for the blows that we struck to Al-Qaeda and perhaps the greatest intelligence success in American history delivering justice to Osama Bin Laden,” the president said.

It was two years ago that Panetta helped direct the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

While at the Pentagon he ended the ban on women serving in front-line combat roles and oversaw the integration of gays and lesbians serving openly in the military.

But for the US public he will forever be linked with the death of bin Laden.

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