Thursday, January 8, 2009

Leon Panetta and the CIA

Leon Panetta and the CIA

By Jerome Grossman

President-elect Obama stunned the national intelligence community by selecting Leon Panetta to serve as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Panetta has been a US Representative, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Chief of Staff in the Clinton administration.

While Panetta is a longtime Washington insider with serious management experience, he is not an expert on intelligence or on past operations of the CIA. Obama has been criticized by CIA specialists and high ranking senators for appointing a director without direct experience in the field.

But that is exactly why Panetta was appointed. Obama has criticized the agency for using harsh interrogation methods and has openly objected to the use of such methods, some of which have been used for generations under Democratic as well as Republican administrations. Obama had to find a director who was absolutely clean on waterboarding, other tortures, secret renditions of prisoners to other countries for torture, kidnappings, assassinations, etc.. The only safe appointment was a manager who had never been in the CIA, who did not have the experience of breaking US law and violating the Geneva Conventions on Treatment of Prisoners of War. The Clinton administration made extensive use of rendering suspects to Egypt without formal charges to be tortured. Was Panetta involved? Will the question be asked at his confirmation hearing?

Democratic senators Dianne Feinstein of California and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia immediately complained about the appointment citing lack of experience and Obama's failure to notify them in advance. However, their position is weakened by their failure to use their influence as powerful members of the Senate Intelligence Committee to expose the hideous practices and to arouse the nation of the crimes committed in the name of the United States.

It will not be easy for Panetta to reform the CIA and to change established patterns of conduct. Who becomes second in command of operations will supply a clue about the chance of success in changing the culture of the agency. The action levels are often hidden from the view of the Director at the helm. Obama is trying, and so will Panetta. The illegal procedures must be eliminated. They offend other nations, tarnish US reputation, and produce incorrect information. Modern intelligence techniques avoid torture and violence, rely on psychological approaches and obtain more accurate information faster without alienating the rest of humanity.

2 comments:

an average patriot said...

Well said Jerome!

I think Panetta was a good choice!
President-elect Barack Obama has selected Leon E. Panetta, the former congressman and White House chief of staff, to take over the Central Intelligence Agency, an organization that Mr. Obama criticized during the campaign for using interrogation methods he decried as torture, Democratic officials said Monday.

Mr. Panetta has a reputation in Washington as a competent manager with strong background in budget issues, but has little hands-on intelligence experience. If confirmed by the Senate, he will take control of the agency most directly responsible for hunting senior Al Qaeda leaders around the globe, but one that has been buffeted since the Sept. 11 attacks by leadership changes and morale problems. Penetta is an odd choice

Considering Obama ran as the agent of change this is a bit disconcerting to me! Considering Barack's criticism of Penetta's stance on torture I find this to be just one more sign of the war cabinet Obama has amassed!

Obama has been criticized for using insiders from the past but we have to remember who the new decider is. He will do the right thing. Obama has been forced to pick the war cabinet he has as they will have many wars to deal with I am afraid. All of which has been set in motion by Bush! I want to criticize the choice of Leo Penetta like I would like to criticize many of his cabinet choices!

However, with the bed Bush has made for us and Obama I think Penetta is a wise choice!

Yiayia said...

The weakened positions of many in the Legislative branches, on both sides of the aisle, for not taking action when they should have during the Bush Administration should not be forgotten. The excessively increasing, self-serving actions for the past 12 years or more, should be laid bare by the media...though it seems unlikely they will do that. They remain entertainers with opinions rather than journalists, with few exceptions.

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