Archive for the ‘Panetta’ Category

Obama Policy On Gitmo, Taliban, Afghanistan, Intel: As Stupid as It Gets

March 10, 2009

President Obama  nominated Charles Freeman for a top intelligence job, even  though Freeman was a well known anti-Isreal guy and very pro-China.

The heat and light of media attention caused Freeman to withdraw.

President Obama has said (A) He wants to close the terrorist prison at Guantanomo Bay Cuba; and (B) He wants to open discussions with the Taliban; and (C) We need to send more troops to Afghanistan.

The president is in the process of sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan and is begging European allies to do the same — even while Joe Biden is saying we are losing the war in Afghanistan.

Bad policy doesn’t help one achieve national goals…..

Well: Here’s a way the president can talk to the Taliban: talk to them at Gitmo before they get free and go to work against the U.S. again…. Then you don’t have to send U.S. troops overseas to kill them.

A former U.S. Marine Corps General Officer told us today, “The only good Taliban is a dead Taliban.”  But if that can’t be achieved, maybe Gitmo is as good as it gets….

Our foreign policy on Gitmo, the Taliban, Afghanistan and (we can no longer say TERRORISM) is about as stupid as government gets….

Who’s to blame?

Did Blair do this?  Panetta?  Rush Limbaugh?  Rahm Emanuel?  Hillary?

Maybe I am too stupid to get this.  Ya think?

 Obama Throws Britain Under the Bus: Relationship “Reset” and “Regime Change”

Era of Obama, American Weakness Emboldens Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Terrorists

Obama’s First Major Foreign Crisis Brewing?
Protocol: Brit Media Furious At Obama

Czech President Says Obama Views “Unknown” On Key Foreign Policy Issues

White House: U.S. Will Not Shoot North Korean Missile

Obama, State Department, White House Staff, Hillary “Unaware,” “Overwhelmed” by Expectations
Hillary: One-Time Health Care Failure Now American’s Chief Diplomat, Fouls Up First Time Out

 Obama Forges New Path in Protocol

 Hillary: One-Time Health Care Failure Now American’s Chief Diplomat, Fouls Up First Time Out

Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”
(Now we can add stupid….)


Guantanamo detainees gloat; say they planned Sept. 11

 Biden: “U.S., West Not Winning In Afghanistan”

Leon Panetta 
Above: Leon Panetta.  Photo by AP



The Taliban‘s new top operations officer in southern Afghanistan had been a prisoner at the Guantanamo Bay detention center, the latest example of a freed detainee who took a militant leadership role and a potential complication for the Obama administration’s efforts to close the prison. U.S. authorities handed over the detainee to the Afghan government, which in turn released him, according to Pentagon and CIA officials.

Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul, formerly Guantanamo prisoner No. 008, was among 13 Afghan prisoners released to the Afghan government in December 2007. Rasoul is now known as Mullah Abdullah Zakir, a nom de guerre that Pentagon and intelligence officials say is used by a Taliban leader who is in charge of operations against U.S. and Afghan forces in southern Afghanistan.

The officials, who spoke anonymously because they are not authorized to release the information, said Rasoul has joined a growing faction of former Guantanamo prisoners who have rejoined militant groups and taken action against U.S. interests. Pentagon officials have said that as many as 60 former detainees have resurfaced on foreign battlefields.

Pentagon and intelligence officials said Rasoul has emerged as a key militant figure in southern Afghanistan, where violence has been spiking in the last year. Thousands of U.S. troops are preparing to deploy there to fight resurgent Taliban forces.

One intelligence official told the Associated Press that Rasoul’s stated mission is to counter the U.S. troop surge.

Although the militant detainees who have resurfaced were released under the Bush administration, the revelation underscores the Obama administration’s dilemma in moving to close the detention camp at Guantanamo and figuring out what to do with the nearly 250 prisoners who remain there.

In one of his first acts in office, President Barack Obama signed an executive order to close the jail next year. The order also convened a task force that will determine how to handle remaining detainees, who could be transferred to other U.S. detention facilities for trial, transferred to foreign nations for legal proceedings or freed.

More than 800 prisoners have been imprisoned at Guantanamo; only a handful have been charged. About 520 Guantanamo detainees have been released from custody or transferred to prisons elsewhere in the world.

A Pentagon tally of the detainees released show that 122 were transferred from Guantanamo in 2007, more than any other year.

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Why Panetta is a Good Choice for CIA

January 12, 2009

A lot of politically snippy things will be said of President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to nominate Leon Panetta as the next CIA director. However, the one we’ll probably hear most often is that “the CIA should be led by someone with intelligence experience.”

The Washington Tomes

I disagree, and regardless of the arguments about intelligence experience or the lack thereof, the Panetta choice is a good one, provided some other things go along with it.

Some history is instructive. In 1976, Gerald Ford appointed George H.W. Bush as director of the CIA. Mr. Bush, an accomplished politician, didn’t have much intelligence experience either. Like Mr. Panetta, Mr. Bush had often been a “consumer” of intelligence, but – also like Mr. Panetta – was definitely not “an intelligence professional,” however one chooses to define the term.

Mr. Bush was appointed CIA director – then called the “Director of Central Intelligence” (and with an arguably wider area of responsibility than the current post-Sept. 11, 2001, CIA director has) because of the turmoil the CIA and the other intelligence agencies were then going though. This was a result of the Watergate scandal that led to Richard Nixon’s resignation, the Church (Senate) and Pike (House) investigations that totally redefined the roles, missions and authorities of the various intelligence agencies while creating the two congressional intelligence oversight committees.

Mr. Bush was a sound choice for the times because of his legislative experience (he had – like Mr. Panetta – served in the House) and because he was able to help navigate the CIA through perhaps its most troubled time in modern history.

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Obama Tells Aides To “Raise Their Game” For Bold, Error Free Administration

January 11, 2009

His call for greater discipline follows a series of missteps, gaffes and embarrassments over the past week, which represent his first wobble ahead of his inauguration and have underlined the difficulty he faces in the transition from campaigning to governing.

He is planning major announcements on the economy, torture, green energy and healthcare during his first week in power, as part of what insiders say is an “audacious” programme which will “stun” his supporters and fans worldwide.

But The Sunday Telegraph has learned that in a series of pep talks with senior aides, Mr Obama has hammered home that they must be at the very “top of their game” if they are to achieve their ambitious goals after he is sworn in to office on Jan 20.

By Tim Shipman in Washington
The Telegraph (UK)

President-Elect Barack Obama has demanded that his aides 'raise their game' if they want to help him change America and the world.

Obama is planning major announcements on the economy, torture, green energy and healthcare during his first week Photo: EPA

Careless errors led to inadequate vetting of Bill Richardson, Mr Obama’s choice for commerce secretary, who withdrew his nomination last week after it emerged he is under investigation for steering state funds in New Mexico, where he is governor, to a political donor.

Insiders said that Mr Obama’s senior staff have also had a “wake up call” about the truculence of fellow Democrats in speaking out publicly against Mr Obama’s selection of Leon Panetta as the next CIA director and details of his economic stimulus package.

Mr Panetta’s selection was particularly contentious since no one on Mr Obama’s team bothered to brief senior members of the Senate Intelligence Committee before the name was leaked.

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Democratic Congress Week 1: Can’t Agree With Obama, Can’t Seat Burris….

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Obama Choice of Panetta At CIA Gaining Support

January 10, 2009

Outgoing CIA Director Michael V. Hayden told employees Friday that his designated successor could learn more from them than the other way around.

“If confirmed by the Senate, he will learn from you about the CIA as it is now, starting with the decisive contributions you make each day to the strength and security of our country,” Mr. Hayden said of nominee Leon Panetta.

President-elect Barack Obama officially announced Friday that Mr. Panetta was his choice to head the CIA and that retired Adm. Dennis Blair would be the director of national intelligence. John O. Brennan will be Mr. Obama’s homeland security adviser and deputy national security adviser for counterterrorism, a post with the title assistant to the president and which is not subject to Senate confirmation.

By Sara Carter
The Washington Times

Michael V. Hayden

Michael V. Hayden

The choice of Mr. Panetta, which was leaked to the press earlier this week, has caused some controversy because he lacks direct experience in the intelligence community.

It provoked sharp criticism from senior Democrats, including the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Dianne Feinstein, of California, who was not informed about the pick in advance. She later recanted her criticism after speaking with Mr. Panetta.

Mr. Hayden, who had made clear his desire to continue in the new administration, told employees, “To facilitate a smooth transition, the president-elect has asked me to stay on until the confirmation process for a new director is complete, and I have agreed.”

He said he and his deputy, Steve Kappes, had met with Mr. Panetta and “came away deeply impressed with his candor and clear commitment to the welfare of the men and women of CIA. It was apparent to us that he is eager to immerse himself in the details of intelligence and espionage.”

Mr. Obama said during his announcement Friday, “We must seamlessly collect, analyze, share and act on information with a sense of urgency.” He said torture would not be an option, and intelligence agencies must not seek information “to suit any ideological agenda” — a slap at the Bush administration’s encouragement of the CIA and other intelligence organizations to seek information supporting the invasion of Iraq.

Leon Panetta 
Above: Leon Panetta.  Photo by AP

Mr. Panetta is known primarily for his budget and managerial expertise. He served in the House from 1977 to 1993 but was not a member of the intelligence committee. From 1993 to 1994, he ran the Office of Management and Budget. He was White House chief of staff from 1994 to 1997. In 2006, he served on the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which recommended major changes in U.S. policy toward Iraq and the Middle East.

The announcement of the Panetta selection surprised many within the CIA who thought Mr. Hayden would be retained for a number of months and who said Mr. Hayden had boosted morale within the agency.

According to intelligence officers, the attrition rate was nearly 6 percent when Mr. Hayden became director, and in the past two years it has dropped to 4.1 percent, the agency’s lowest rate on record. The rate of resignations is currently 1.8 percent, the officers said.

However, Robert Steele, the author of six books on intelligence and the founding senior civilian of the Marine Corps Intelligence Center, said that “Panetta is actually the first DCI of substance since Bill Casey, the first since Casey who will not be bamboozled by the insiders or bullied by Congress and special interests.”

Mr. Brennan, who was Mr. Obama’s campaign adviser on intelligence, was another candidate for head of the CIA but withdrew his name after some left-leaning bloggers accused him of complicity in crafting interrogation policies for detainees that critics say amounted to torture.

In his new post, however, Mr. Brennan may have more influence over national security than he would have had as CIA chief. The 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act made the agency subservient in many ways to the director of national intelligence for intelligence analysis.

The primary role for the CIA today is its clandestine service, which recruits spies. But the Pentagon in recent years has stepped up both its intelligence gathering and “black” operation capabilities.

While the power balance in the next administration is still to be determined, it’s likely that the national security council will wield more influence than it has under the Bush presidency, when national security advisers failed to reign in warring bureaucratic factions.

John Deutch, CIA director from 1995 to 1996, said it was important to look at Mr. Obama’s intelligence picks as a team.

“You have Blair, Panetta and Brennan. They have a mixture of backgrounds and the mix is unusually strong,” Mr. Deutch said.

Obama To Make National Intelligence Nominations Today

January 9, 2009

President-elect Barack Obama will announce Friday that he is naming Leon Panetta as CIA director and Dennis Blair as director of national intelligence, two officials close to the transition told CNN Thursday.


After a surprisingly heated reaction earlier this week to President-elect Barack Obama’s apparent selection of Leon Panetta as CIA director, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the would-be spy chief appear to have put the matter behind them.

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Commentary from The Washington Times

The appointment of Adm. Blair, following unprecedented reappointment of Bush administration Defense Secretary Robert Gates, is guaranteed to antagonize many on the political left, Mr. Obama’s initial national base of core support. There is also more general concern about military dominance of intelligence. During the Bush administration, appointment of Gen. Michael Hayden to head the CIA drew some sharp attacks.

As with criticism of Mr. Panetta, this argument ignores history. The first four directors of the Central Intelligence Agency were all senior military officers: Rear Adm. Sidney Souers, Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg, Vice Adm. Roscoe Hillenkoetter, and Gen. Walter Bedell Smith.

Smith, notably successful at CIA, had been chief of staff to Supreme Allied Commander Dwight Eisenhower during World War II. In retrospect, Ike and his team were remarkably effective in steering the United States through very turbulent Cold War years. Experience in the disciplined milieu of the military translated directly into success in the shadow scenery of the spy.

In tandem, Adm. Blair and Mr. Panetta may be an ideal team to bring effective policy change grounded in essential competence.

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From CNN:

Panetta Loyalty to Obama Key to Improved CIA?

January 8, 2009

In selecting Leon Panetta as head of the CIA, Mr. Obama has chosen a trusted person whose loyalty is assured, a person he will support when the going gets tough. George W. Bush erred in not immediately replacing CIA chief George Tenet, a holdover from the Clinton administration.

By Ishmael Jones
The Washington Times

The CIA is meant to be America’s early warning system, providing the intelligence that is used to prevent attack. But the CIA has become a bureaucratic creature, loyal only to itself, and its ability to produce human source intelligence is dismal. Reliance upon it is our major national security weakness.

Americans may disagree on the reasons for our lack of preparedness prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and our response to those attacks in the subsequent Afghan and Iraq wars, but we should agree that much of the intelligence provided to President Bush by the CIA was false or nonexistent.

Leon Panetta 
Above: Leon Panetta.  Photo by AP

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Panetta at CIA? Consumers Not Always Best Qualified Farmers or Managers

January 7, 2009

Leon Panetta is a good consumer of intelligence.

More than a few commentators have said that, based upon Panetta’s experiece as Bill Clinton’s White House Chief of Staff.

But I love food and have no hopes of ever running a farm, grocery or restaurant.  I just don’t have the training, expereince and know-how.

While Barack Obama praised Mr. Panetta for his managerial skills, I thought to myself: neither one of these guys knows a thing about the intelligence world.  Or groceries.

I can imagine explaining some difficult CIA operation to the new boss, and stopping every sentence to explain to him what we are doing and why.

This is called a “tutorial.”

So, in the midst of two wars and a very troubled world, your CIA will be scheduling a lot of “tutorial” time for their new boss.  Or bosses.

This can be good or bad.

So what kind of “consumer” was Mr. Panetta during the Clinton years?

While Mr. Panetta was consuming intelligence, U.S. embassies in Africa were bombed, the USS Cole was blown up, and many other harbingers of 9-11 were overlooked, misread or not fully appreciated.

Many senior, experieced intelligence profressionals have expressed dismay to us and others at the Panetta pick….

This is just not the time to learn this dificult business, many believe…..

John E. Carey

From CNN:

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

Leon Panetta 
Above: Leon Panetta.  Photo by AP

Obama Didn’t Want Man of Knowledge and Integrity at CIA

January 7, 2009

WOULD you ask your accountant to perform brain surgery on your child? That’s the closest analogy I can find to the choice of Democratic Party hack Leon Panetta to head the CIA.

Earth to President-elect Obama: Intelligence is serious. And infernally complicated. When we politicize it – as we have for 16 years – we get 9/11. Or, yes, Iraq.

The extreme left, to which Panetta’s nomination panders, howled that Bush and Cheney corrupted the intelligence system. Well, I worked in the intel world in the mid 1990s and saw how the Clinton team undermined the system’s integrity.

Al Qaeda a serious threat? The Clinton White House didn’t want to hear it. Clinton was the pioneer in corrupting intelligence. Bush was just a follow-on homesteader.

By Ralph Peters
New York Post

Now we’ve fallen so low that left-wing cadres can applaud the nomination of a CIA chief whose sole qualification is that he’s a party loyalist, untainted by experience.

The director’s job at the CIA isn’t a party favor. This is potentially a matter of life and death for thousands of Americans. But the choice of Panetta tells us all that Barack Obama doesn’t take intelligence seriously.

Mark my words: It’ll bite him in the butt.

After the military, the intel community is the most complex arm of government. You can’t do on-the-job training at the top. While a CIA boss needn’t be a career intelligence professional, he or she does need a deep familiarity with the purposes, capabilities, limitations and intricacies of intelligence.

Oh, and you’d better understand the intelligence bureaucracy.

Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), who was blindsided – and appalled – by the Obama mafia’s choice, has the essential knowledge of how the system works. She, or a similar expert, should have gotten this nod. But the president-elect wanted a clean-slate yes-man, not a person of knowledge and integrity….

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Pros and Cons of Picking Panetta for CIA

January 7, 2009

There are, I suspect, quite a few jobs in government for which having no experience is not a liability. But few would list CIA director among them. Which is why Barack Obama‘s pick of Leon Panetta is causing so much consternation.

A former congressman, Mr. Panetta, 70, served as budget director and then as chief of staff in the Clinton administration. But he’s never spent a day in the intelligence community.

The outgoing chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WVa), and the incoming chairman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), are cool to the choice. Both Ms. Feinstein and Mr. Rockefeller had recommended deputy director Steven Kappes.

By Jack Kelly
Real Clear Politics

Mr. Obama originally had planned to tap John Brennan, who was head of the National Counterterrorism Center at the time of his retirement in 2005. But the rumored appointment ignited a storm of protest from left wingers who opposed the coercive interrogation techniques the CIA used on some high level al Qaida prisoners.

“The fact that I was not involved in the decision-making process for any of these controversial policies and actions has been ignored,” Mr. Brennan said in a Nov. 26 letter withdrawing his name.

By yielding to Mr. Brennan’s critics, Mr. Obama made it all but impossible to pick anyone who held a senior position in the intelligence community during the Bush administration, which may be why Mr. Kappes was passed over.

If you think it dangerous, at a time when we are engaged in two wars, to have a novice at the CIA, then you’re likely appalled by the Panetta nomination.

But if you think of the CIA as a rogue, dysfunctional agency that needs to be reined in, you may think Mr. Obama’s choice is inspired.

Many of those worried about Mr. Panetta have an outdated view of the importance of the CIA. After 9/11 a huge new layer of bureaucracy was imposed on the intelligence community. This was mostly stupid, because there was too much bureaucracy already. But it made the CIA much less important.

Most of the intelligence we gather is collected by the National Security Agency, through its electronic eavesdropping, and by the satellite photos taken by the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.

The CIA essentially got out of the HUMINT (human intelligence) business when the Clinton administration slashed its budget in the early 1990s. Most of such little intelligence as the CIA now gathers comes from interrogation of prisoners. But most prisoner interrogations are done by the military.

The CIA does still have its analysis branch, which has missed most of the major developments of the last 20 years. And analysis work has been migrating to the various multi-agency intelligence centers established after 9/11.

The real head cheese is the Director of National Intelligence. For DNI, Mr. Obama has selected retired Admiral Dennis Blair. He’s a former commander of Pacific Command and a former associate director of the CIA, a Rhodes scholar who once water-skied behind the destroyer he was commanding. Admiral Blair doesn’t need Mr. Panetta’s advice on intelligence matters.

But as a skilled bureaucratic infighter whose loyalty will be to the president and not to the CIA, Mr. Panetta may be, thinks Michael Ledeen, just the right guy “to watch Obama’s back at a place that’s full of stilettos and a track record for attempted presidential assassination second to none.”

Because I think the CIA requires wholesale reform, I think better of the Panetta nomination than most other commentators do. But I have two huge concerns.

It was Mr. Panetta, as President Clinton’s budget director, who gutted our HUMINT capability. And Mr. Panetta’s eagerness to define anything that makes terrorists uncomfortable as “torture” means we’ll be getting precious little information from future interrogations.

Mr. Obama is taking a big chance. If there is a successful terrorist attack on the U.S. during his watch, this is the appointment that will doom his presidency.


Obama Is Under Fire Over Panetta Selection

January 7, 2009

President-elect Barack Obama said yesterday that he has selected a “top-notch intelligence team” that would provide the “unvarnished” information his administration needs, rather than “what they think the president wants to hear.”

But current and former intelligence officials expressed sharp resentment over Obama’s choice of Leon E. Panetta as CIA director and suggested that the agency suffers from incompetent leadership and low morale. “People who suggest morale is low don’t have a clue about what’s going on now,” said CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield, citing recent personnel reforms under Director Michael V. Hayden.

By Karen DeYoung and Joby Warrick
The Washington Post

On Capitol Hill, Democrats on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence were still stewing over Obama not consulting them on the choice before it was leaked Monday and continued to question Panetta’s intelligence experience. Vice President-elect  Joseph R. Biden Jr. acknowledged that the transition team had made a “mistake” in not consulting or even notifying congressional leaders, and Obama telephoned committee Chairman  Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and her predecessor,  Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), yesterday to apologize.

“Obama trusts [Panetta] — that’s a huge plus,” committee member  Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said, citing Panetta’s management expertise as Clinton White House chief of staff and budget director. But “after the past 24 hours, Leon Panetta is likely to get a good grilling” at his confirmation hearing, Wyden said.

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