President-elect Obama picks Leon Panetta to head the CIA

Posted by: ST on January 5, 2009 at 7:19 pm

I can’t add much to Jennifer Rubin’s commentary on what looks like a blatantly political pick.

It’s so bad that even two prominent Dem Senators, Rockefeller and Feinstein, have expressed serious reservations about Panetta’s level of experience … or should I say “lack thereof”?

President-elect Barack Obama has tapped former Clinton White House chief of staff Leon E. Panetta to head the CIA, a Democratic official confirmed Monday, but he may face some resistance on Capitol Hill.

The incoming and outgoing chairs of the Senate Intelligence Committee immediately signaled concerns about the pick, primarily because of Panetta’s thin resume on intelligence.

“I was not informed about the selection of Leon Panetta to be the CIA director. I know nothing about this, other than what I’ve read” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein , D-Calif., who will chair the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in the 111th Congress, in a written statement. “My position has consistently been that I believe the agency is best-served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time.”

An aide to Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV , D-W.Va., who served as chairman of the committee in the 110th Congress, said, “I think, based on press reporting if it proves correct, Sen. Rockefeller has some concerns about his selection. Not because he has any concerns about Panetta, whom he thinks very highly of, but because [Panetta] has no intelligence experience and because he has believed this has always been a position that should be outside of the political realm.”

The AP piles on, but only to make it clear that St. Obama is only doing this so he can clear out those dirty no-good Bush-era intelligence chiefs:

WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Barack Obama’s decision to fill the nation’s top intelligence jobs with two men short on direct experience in intelligence gathering surprised the spy community and signaled the Democrat’s intention for a clean break from Bush administration policies.

Former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, an eight-term congressional veteran and administrative expert, is being tapped to head the CIA. Retired Adm. Dennis Blair is Obama’s choice to be director of national intelligence, a selection expected for weeks, according to two Democrats who spoke on condition of anonymity because Obama has not officially announced the choices.

The Obama transition team’s long delay in selecting CIA and national intelligence directors is a reflection of the complicated demands of the jobs and Obama’s own policies and priorities.

Obama is sending an unequivocal message that controversial administration policies approving harsh interrogations, waterboarding and extraordinary renditions — the secret transfer of prisoners to other governments with a history of torture — and warrantless wiretapping are over, said several officials.

The search for Obama’s new CIA chief had been stalled since November, when John Brennan, Obama’s transition intelligence adviser, abruptly withdrew his name from consideration. Brennan said his potential nomination had sparked outrage among civil rights and human rights groups, who argued that he had not been outspoken enough in his condemnation of President George W. Bush’s policies.

And despite an internal list of former and current CIA officials who had impressive administrative credentials, all either worked in intelligence during the Bush administration’s development of controversial policies on interrogation and torture or earlier, during the months leading up to the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Neither Panetta nor Blair are tainted by associations with Bush administration policies, in large part because they both come from outside the intelligence world. Blair was posted at the CIA for about a year.

So lemme see here: We’ve got an inexperienced president-elect who has appointed a woman with scant foreign policy experience to the Sec. of State position, and shortly after that, picked two people with virtually no intelligence experience (save a year) as the head of the CIA and director of national intelligence respectively. Sounds like Blair has had a distinguished military career, but just one year experience in the CIA?

Dunno about you, but this gives me so much hope about our future foreign affairs/counterterrorism efforts that I could just burst. /sarc

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14 Responses to “President-elect Obama picks Leon Panetta to head the CIA”

Comments

  1. Leslie says:

    Ah. Hah. Clintonista Panetta gets job because that was one of the terms of the agreement between Obama and Hillary when she agreed to become Secretary of State.

    Now look at this quote ST has thankfully brought to our attention:

    Obama is sending an unequivocal message that controversial administration policies approving harsh interrogations, waterboarding and extraordinary renditions — the secret transfer of prisoners to other governments with a history of torture — and warrantless wiretapping are over, said several officials.

    Emphasis mine.

    Well I’ve no problem with the president-elect sending unequivocal messages (although if my hunch that this is part of a deal is correct it’s not so unequivocal), but are we supposed to believe that these “several officials” stood up as one and, like an old-time doo-wop group sang out: “Doo wah, doo wah, the days of torture and warrantless wiretapping are over over over hummmmmmm.”

    Oh wait! Never mind. The AP didn’t put quotemarks around the whole thing. So we don’t know what the officials said, let alone who they are. Now isn’t that helpful?

  2. NC Cop says:

    Obama is also sending an unequivocal message that experience and qualifications are completely irrelevant in his administration. He is also sending a message that he is in such a hurry to placate the lunatic left that he will risk the lives of Americans to do it.

    If this is a nightmare, somebody please wake me up. :((

  3. Trish says:

    I’ve been browsing on some food blogs, so when I saw that, for a minute I thought it said, “pancetta.”

    Ah, would that it had!=))

  4. SpideyTerry says:

    Well, the upshot is that Panetta still has more experience than Obama.

    Man, 2012 can’t come fast enough.

  5. Severian says:

    I’ve been browsing on some food blogs, so when I saw that, for a minute I thought it said, “pancetta.”

    Well, he is a real ham though. :d

    I don’t know why this surprises anyone, this is indeed the “American Idol” election and administration, amateurs trying to be professionals. Actually it’s more like “The Gong Show” but unfortunately our enemies have very large gongs they can ring.

  6. Lorica says:

    It seems to me that Panetta was one of the guys that knew that the Clinton Admin. was doing Renditions. It was very much a Clinton policy to send these guys to Egypt to be tortured, and I know as Bill’s CoS Panetta would have known that was what was going on. So basically what the AP is saying is, that they are done reporting on such nasty things.

    Now back to our regularly scheduled programing of the Teletubbies visit Barack the Magic Negro. – Lorica

  7. Great White Rat says:

    Obama’s focus will be on domestic matters, not national security or foreign policy. So it’s not surprising that his selections for those positions are light on experience.

    The real problem will come if he folds under the pressure from the far left and allows a de facto dismantling of the intelligence and security apparatus. It will be a re-run of the 1970’s disaster when the Congressional Dems under Frank Church nearly ruined the CIA. Except the threat may be more dangerous, since it now comes not from Soviet nukes – the Soviets, however evil, were at least sane – but from unhinged islamofascists.

  8. yo says:

    Hey! Let’s not forget, folks, what we’ve had to listen to from the left over the appointment of “nice job Brownie” by gwbush. So, after the media beating they’ve given us since katrina over that, now they are going to do the exact same thing, put politics above experience, and not only won’t the press hammer obama over it, they try to help him make his case.
    Gonna be a very long four years, folks.

  9. Marshall Art says:

    I wish I had a link for this, but one conservative pundit suggested the Panetta pick was made to reduce the conflict between the CIA and the admin that Bush was made to endure. They weren’t exactly chummy. In fact, the Hillary pick solves the same problem from a competitor for the throne.

  10. Steve Skubinna says:

    It will be a re-run of the 1970’s disaster when the Congressional Dems under Frank Church nearly ruined the CIA.

    What do you mean, “nearly,” GWR? Are you aware of some CIA success story since the ’70s that has eluded the rest of us? I think the CIA is only effective in Tom Clancy novels.

  11. Great White Rat says:

    Steve, they have managed not to blow up their own HQ in Langley or turn it into an AQ command center. Considering everything else they’ve gotten wrong, that has to be counted a success.

  12. Neo says:

    What’s the big deal. Leon gradgiated the 5th grade and can probably cypher.

    That’s all it takes to be a double naught spy.

    Besides, Sanjay Gupta out scores him for “brain surgeon”

  13. Carl says:

    Hokey smokes, Bullwinkle! If Panetta…poinsetta…pancetta…whatever…can get a cabinet job of which he has no experience, where do I send my resumé to get one of those jobs?!?