Archive for the ‘Central Intelligence’ Category

Obama: “Utmost Respect” for CIA Choice Leon Panetta

January 6, 2009

Just about 24 hours after the news was released that the President-elect would probably nominate Leon Panetta to head the CIA, Mr. Obama had to defend his choice before reporters this afternoon.

Panetta, a former Congressman from California and Clinton White House Chief of Staff, has already come under fire because he has no intelligence service experience, even on the House Intelligence Committee.

Barack Obama praised Panetta’s management skill and experience and said when he formally announces his intelligence team that anouncement will show balance, skill and experience.

Obama went out of his way to say Panetta as “one of the finest public servants that we’ve had.”

“He brings extraordinary management skills, great political savvy, an impeccable record of integrity,” Obama said, adding — perhaps in answer to grumbling from some members of Congress that Panetta has no direct experience in intelligence-gathering — that “he is somebody who obviously was fully versed in international affairs crisis management, and had to evaluate intelligence consistently on a day-to-day basis.”

Los Angeles Times writers  Greg Miller and Christi Parsons  said, “In choosing Leon E. Panetta to be the next CIA director, President-elect Barack Obama appears to have concluded that a spy chief who understands politics may be better equipped to carry out the incoming administration’s national security agenda than one who understands espionage.”

But despite Panetta’s known political acumen and that of the Obama team, one small detail was left unattended.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who this week begins her tenure as the first female head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she was not consulted on the choice and indicated she might oppose it.

“I was not informed about the selection of Leon Panetta to be the CIA director,” Feinstein said. “My position has consistently been that I believe the agency is best served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time.”

Panetta’s lack of “intelligence experience” is probably seen as a good thing by Obama and his advisors.

George Tenet came up through the CIA to become the Director of the CIA team that made the wrong call on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

And Porter Goss, a well respected member of the House Itelligence Committee, went to head the CIA where most said he failed….

By John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

Related:
 Obama’s CIA Pick from “Left Field” Agents Say; President-Elect Wants It That Way

What’s so bad about Panetta?
http://johnmcquaid.com/2009/01/06/whats-
wrong-with-panetta/

Read the Los Angeles Times story:
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation
/la-na-obama-cia-panetta6-2009jan06,0,5514283.story

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Read the Huffington Post

There are lessons to be learned from Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s reaction to the nomination of Leon Panetta as CIA head. One is that powerful Democratic Senators can be no less sensitive or arbitrary than their GOP counterparts. Another is that the phrase “intelligence professional” can be used like a mantra without being properly defined for the public. Nevertheless, the appointment of a “politician” to run the CIA is not inherently wrong. It can be a good or bad thing — depending on how it’s done, and by whom.

Read the rest:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rj-eskow/feinstein
panetta-senatori_b_155627.html

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From Politico:

Did the appointment of Panetta — a 70-year-old veteran of the Democratic establishment with a blue-chip name but no record of fresh thinking about intelligence issues — indicate a dearth of creativity and options within the Obama team as time runs out on the transition?

Read more:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20090106
/pl_politico/17107_1

Obama’s CIA Pick from “Left Field” Agents Say; President-Elect Wants It That Way

January 5, 2009

One might think some experience in the intelligence business a prerequisite for an American leader of Central Intelligence.

But that has not always been the case and Barack Obama picked a “dark horse” or “a man right out of left field” according to  retired CIA officers who spoke to us today.

Leon Panetta  served as Bill Clinton’s White House Chief of Staff after years as a Congressman from California (1977 to 1993).  Insiders say he will be named to head the CIA by Barack Obama.

Panetta never even served on the House Intelligence Committee.

A serving CIA agent said to us, “This sounds like the President-elect wanted someone loyal to him; not someone loyal to the best intelligence.”

The CIA is known to be a very “closed organization” with people that sometimes fail to embrace their politically appointed leaders.

President-elect Obama’s choice of Panetta will cause some discussion, especially since George W. Bush earlier in his term picked a congressman with lots of Intelliegence Committee experience.

Goss, Bush’s pick and a veteran of the House Intelligence Committee was widely considered a failure at CIA and unable to understand its culture and people.

Mr. Obama is probably going to rely upon his Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, to take the lead in holding  things in place….

Expect the far right not to like Panetta, just as the far left didn’t like Obama’s idea of  John Brennan, Obama’s one-time chief intelligence adviser and an earlier anticipated CIA chief….

Related:
Blair, Master at Intelligence, Joins Obama Administration
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Even Democrats Cools To Obama’s CIA Pick
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From CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/01/05
/panetta.cia/index.html

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  CIA: At Least One Obama Nominee Idea Derailed

Porter J. Goss
Porter Goss
Leon Panetta 
Above: leon Panetta Photo by AP

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From the Associated Press:
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By NEDRA PICKLER
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Two Democratic officials say President-elect Barack Obama has chosen former Clinton White House chief of staff Leon Panetta to run the CIA. Panetta was a surprise pick for the post, with no experience in the intelligence world. An Obama transition official and another Democrat disclosed his nomination on a condition of anonymity since it was not yet public.

Panetta was director of the Office of Management and Budget and a longtime congressman from California.

He served on the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel that released a report at the end of 2006 with dozens of recommendations for the reversing course in the Iraq war.

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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.

By PAMELA HESS, Associated Press Writer

Former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, a longtime 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 new CIA and national intelligence directors is a reflection of the complicated demands of the jobs and Obama’s own policies and priorities.

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.

Obama had hoped to send 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.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090105/ap_
on_go_pr_wh/obama_spy_agencies