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.