President-elect Barack Obama phoned key lawmakers to defend the selection of Leon Panetta to head the Central Intelligence Agency and quell concerns over Mr. Panetta’s lack of first-hand intelligence experience.
In his first public comments on intelligence matters since the election, Mr. Obama also promised that his intelligence team would break from Bush administration practices that he said had “tarnished” the government’s image.
A formal announcement of Mr. Panetta’s nomination is expected later this week.
The two senators, the top Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, chastised Mr. Obama on Monday for not choosing an intelligence professional for the job and not telling them of his plans to nominate Mr. Panetta. The intelligence committee will hold confirmation hearings for Mr. Panetta and the expected nominee for director of national
Only two CIA directors in the past three decades — Robert Gates in the administration of George H.W. Bush and current CIA Director Michael Hayden — have held senior intelligence posts prior to appointment. Outsiders are frequently selected to be CIA director, with mixed results.
The senators that are the most vocal in opposition were Bush collaborators. They white washed the intelligence to allow the invasion of Iraq. Their lax oversight has given the country more grief than they have given good news. Especially Feinstein who championed such stuff as the Iraq War, FISA and the Patriot Act.
The truth is that their feelings were hurt because they were not consulted in the pick. But why would Obama , who wants change, seek counsel from the very people that are the problem in the intel community?