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Panetta To Be DCI?

Tuesday, Jan. 06, 2009 3:52 AM

Former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta's name has been floated as Obama's pick to head up the CIA.

The two major criticisms so far are a) it's another former Clinton staffer, and b) Panetta has no experience with intelligence.

First, to distill the whole of Panetta's career down to the four years he was Director of the Office of Management and Budget (1993), then Chief of Staff (1994-1997), is disingenuous at best.

Second, let's take a look at the 'experienced' people who have headed up Bush's CIA, from George Tenet to Porter Goss and General Mike McConnell - people under whom violations of international law were conducted with nary a protest. And then there's NSA Director General Michael Hayden, who may be an experienced hand at intel, but doesn't know the basics of the Fourth Amendment.

Senator Dianne Feinstein apparently isn't impressed with the choice of Panetta, either. But then, Feinstein's own expertise was worrying whether or not Hayden's Air Force credentials would cause a conflict of interest, and something like upholding the Constitution just wasn't important. (And whatever happened to the 'the president deserves counsel he feels comfortable with' comedy routine?)

We're also left with the challenge we faced after 9/11. The Department of Homeland Security was created to bring the national security apparatus of this country under a single umbrella, to enhance its function and unity of command. And then we were told it would take time. Since then, we've not only been treated to shoddy intelligence pertaining to the Iraq War, we were caught flatfooted by a hurricane whose course and strength we knew. We have apologists from the Bush Administration looking for 'moral clarity' about torture and rendition.

Not to mention the GOP trying to sell us a presidential candidate who repeatedly confused Sunni with Shiite and Iraq with Iran, along with a vice-presidential candidate whose national security credentials consisted of 'being able to see Russia' from her home state. (Though she apparently never visited Little Diomede island.)

Panetta's strength is in the area of public policy. We're going to need that to rebuild and restore confidence on the domestic front as well as among the international community, not just pretend the smarmy double-talk of the past eight years didn't happen.


The fatal shooting of a BART passenger during an altercation at the Fruitvale Station on New Year's Eve is quickly becoming a PR nightmare for the transit agency as at least two separate amateur videos of the shooting have surfaced, one showing the officer whose sidearm went off and what appears to be an 'oh shit!' expression.

And while that supports the 'it was an accident' claim, there's plenty of room to wonder about the extent of training given to BART police officers, as well as the time of the shooting and any radio call for paramedics.



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