Monday, January 5, 2009

The Panetta Pick

The choice of Leon Panetta as Director of C.I.A. baffles me. Yes, he's yet another Clinton crony so that part doesn't shock me, but he has NO intelligence experience. In this very critical timewhy are we are getting a CIA Director with no intelligence experience?

According to the New York Times, Obama had a difficult time finding someone with "no connection to controversial counterterrorism programs of the Bush era." His first pick, John O. Brennan, withdrew his name after criticism over his role in developing detention and interrogation programs after 9/11. Representative Jane Harman of CA was considered and then abandoned because of her support of some Bush policies.

The Obama transition team points out that CIA directors have been named before that had little intelligence experience, such as George H. W. Bush, but seriously - times were different then.

Panetta, writing in the Washington Monthly, took a strong stand against torture in interrogation techniques. He said, "We cannot simply suspend these beliefs in the name of national security. Those who support torture may believe that we can abuse captives in certain select circumstances and still be true to our values. But that is a false compromise. We either believe in the dignity of the individual, the rule of law, and the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, or we don't. There is no middle ground." This seems to be Obama's draw to him.

Dianne Feinstein is not pleased.

During the campaign, Obama stressed the importance of finding Osama and criticized Bush for seeming to abandon his focus. It seems to me that the best intelligence we could get is the right course and I'm far from convinced that Panetta is the choice to lead us in that direction.


Anonymous said...

What would the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus do to have clowns like these?

We are soooooooo screwed.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, you're tainting my good name with your poor comment. Please stop :)

This pick is true to form for Obama. He's been unabashed in his repudiation of the Bush administration's counter-terrorism policies. This pick is controversial in that he didn't pick a life-long intelligence professional, but not in the quality, capability, and professionalism of the chosen individual. Panetta is highly respected, even by those who question him as head of CIA.

I only make this clarification because i believe its too easy to denounce Panetta simply on the grounds that he's not from the intelligence arena. And i think we'd all be naive to think we civilians would understand what a proper choice for head of the CIA should be, don't you think?

Despite the marketed, but unproven, stereotype that Republicans protect the country better than Democrats, we should be rational about the incoming administration's intentions. Undoubtedly, Bush and Obama hold philosophical differences, but don't we think their desire to protect the country from harm is equal? Would one honestly believe that our incoming president wishes anything less than the protection of his own country, its citizens, his own life, his family, and his legacy as a successful president? Believing otherwise would seem to be irrational.

I don't say this as a criticism of your blog, but merely as a preface for upcoming debate, since this is a hot button issue for conservatives who seem too eager to believe that a citizen and president of our country would have any less than the best intentions for protecting our country from harm. Philosophies can be debated, but in this instance we must be honest about the equality of intentions.