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I've barely written a word about any of Barack Obama's political appointees. Most of them have been alright. Rahm Emanuel as Obama's Chief of Staff - okay by me. Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State - I actually think she could be pretty good. Bill Richardson as Secretary of Commerce - the Obama team didn't do their due diligence on that one. Retired Adm. Dennis Blair as National Intelligence Director - fine. Obama has appointed lots of former Clinton people. Okay. That was to be expected.
But Leon Panetta as head of the CIA ? C'mon now. That doesn't make any sense at all. Panetta doesn't have any intelligence experience. There must be literally hundreds, if not thousands of people who are more qualified for that job. Here's a thumbnail sketch of Panetta's political career from the time he first entered Congress.
Panetta is a 70 1/2 year old former Clintonite who served in the House Of Representatives for 16 years. He worked on the following committees:
- Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on the Budget
- Chairman of the Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Domestic Marketing, Consumer Relations, and Nutrition
- Chairman of the Administration Committee's Subcommittee on Personnel and Police
- Chairman of the Task Force on Domestic Hunger created by the U.S. House Select Committee on Hunger
- Vice Chairman of the Caucus of Vietnam-Era Veterans in Congress
- Member of the President's Commission on Foreign Language and International Studies.
Bill Clinton made Panetta the head of the Office Of Management And Budget, and later made him his Chief Of Staff. Panetta was also part of the Iraq Study Group.
Does anybody see anything in there that would make him the least bit qualified to run the CIA ???? I don't. The incoming chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Diane Feinstein (D-CA), who was not even consulted by Obama on the pick of Leon Panetta, was quoted as saying the CIA head should be an "intelligence professional." No kidding. That's a given. Outgoing Senate Intelligence chair Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) doesn't approve of the Panetta pick either.
So why did Obama tag Panetta for the job ? There can only be one explanation - POLITICS. Obama wants to reverse several counter-terrorism and intelligence policies of the Bush administration, and Panetta is on board with Obama from an ideological standpoint. I'm sorry, Mr. Obama, but that ain't nearly good enough. The CIA head should be appointed based upon a lot more than political considerations. Qualifications and experience should be paramount. We have troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. Iran is on the verge of a nuclear weapon. Terrorism is still a threat. We don't need a 70-year old newbie with an enormous learning curve strolling into Langley saying "okay, analysts, teach me what's going on." Mistakes in that job can be disastrous. Obama is being irrresponsible here, and is showing his own naivete and inexperience.
And do we really want to go back to a Clinton-era CIA structure ? Remember, in january 2001, George W. Bush left the Clinton CIA team intact, headed by George "Slam Dunk" Tenet. How'd that work out ? Intelligence walls, 9/11, and bad WMD intel.
Congress should reject this appointment, for all our sakes.