>> Tuesday, January 6, 2009
There are a certain set of individuals in the Senate who back the decisions made by president Bush on matters of torture and "enhanced interrogation" and those people happen to reside on the senate intelligence committee. The two highest profile members of this torture backing group are Diane Feinstein (D) California and Jay Rockefeller (D) West Virginia. As two members who have always been aware and approving of the Bush intelligence schemes they most certainly meet the level of complicity and conspiracy in the torture crimes. It is not surprising to see them coming out against the Obama pick for CIA head when that person is seen to represent a break from the type of programs and way of doing business they are familiar with.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who this week begins her tenure as the first female chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said today that 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.”
The choice of Panetta was seen as a sign that Obama considered it more important to have a steady political hand and astute manager at the helm of the agency, rather than someone with deep operational experience.
In picking Panetta, Obama risks raising anew questions about the politicization of the CIA, a concern cited by leading congressional officials.
A senior aide to Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), outgoing chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that the senator “would have concerns” about a Panetta nomination.
Rockefeller “thinks very highly of Panetta,” the aide said. “But he’s puzzled by the selection. He has concerns because he has always believed that the director of CIA needs to be someone with significant operational intelligence experience, and someone outside the political realm.”
The problem with having people who have an extensive operations background in charge is that they are more likely than not going to have some issues with the torture regime of the last eight years. That is, hopefully, the reason that the Brennan candidacy fell through. There are probably some Clinton people available who have been out of the agency for the last eight years but they would be returning to a place much changed since they left with the reorg after 9/11.
DiFi and Rockefeller have never been too concerned about Presidential choices in the past considering the confirmation of Porter Goss, George Tenet, and Michael Hayden, as well as Mike Mukasey, Robert Mueller. They claim that only a person with field experience inside the agency can do the job? Steve Benen answers that,
Turf battles notwithstanding, the more complaints I hear about Panetta at the CIA, the more I find the concerns underwhelming. Feinstein and Rockefeller feel snubbed? Given their recent track record, I don't much care. The head of the CIA should come from within the agency? At least six recent CIA chiefs didn't. Panetta doesn't have a background in national security intelligence? Nonsense, as White House chief of staff and an ISG member, Panetta dealt with the very sensitive intelligence on a daily basis. Indeed, he learned very well precisely how to process intelligence to help the president see the big picture.
If we start with a premise that Obama wanted to find a credible, experienced manager, who's dealt with intelligence but remains untainted by the Bush-era scandals, Panetta starts to look like an ideal choice.
Far from being ineffective because he lacks field experience Panetta looks like he will bring a great deal of Washington know how to the table. He understands budget fights and the political machinations of washington and can assure the CIA gets its share of money and credit while also keeping the agency in line. If the two honorable senators who have come out against this pick want to cover their torture supporting asses this is not the way to go. They should simply stay quiet and hope everyone forgets about their maleficence.