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Michèle Flournoy considered the most likely candidate to replace Chuck Hagel as the next secretary of defense, sent Obama a letter saying thanks but no thanks, complicating what will be already one of the most controversial cabinet selections of his second term.

Foreign Policy is reporting that Flournoy, the co-founder and CEO of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) sent a letter Tuesday to members of the CNAS board of directors, Flournoy said she would remain in her post at the think tank and asked Obama to take her out of consideration to be the next secretary of defense. Flournoy told the board members that family health considerations helped drive her decision and the fact that two of her children are leaving for college in the next two years.

“Last night I spoke with President Obama and removed myself from consideration due to family concerns,” reads the letter. “After much agonizing, we decided that now was not the right time for me to reenter government. The good news is that you all are stuck with me for the indefinite future!”

The move means that only one of the three names rumored for the post remains under consideration: Ashton Carter, the former deputy secretary of defense. When Hagel was ousted Monday, speculation had immediately turned to Flournoy, Carter, and Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, a former Army Ranger. But Reed took himself out of the running almost immediately after Hagel announced his resignation.

Beyond Hagel, the White House may now to look to Hagel deputy Robert Work and Rep. Adam Smith, a Democrat from Washington.

Fox is reporting that former Republican and Bush Administration Secretary of State Colin Powell may be in the running.

After that who knows, perhaps he could turn to his old friend Bill Ayers (we know he is good with bombs).

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