Intel Chair Feinstein Slaps at Obama’s Choice of Panetta as CIA Director
January 6, 2009 - 7:42 AMSen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who this week assumes the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, took a slap yesterday at President-elect Barack Obama's selection of Leon Panetta to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
"I was not informed about the selection of Leon Panetta to be the CIA director,” she stated shortly after the selection of Panetta was revealed in television reports. “My position has consistently been that I believe the agency is best served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time.”
A spokesman for Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D.-W.V.), who served as intelligence chairman in the last Congress, indicated that Rockefeller was "puzzled" by Obama’s selection of Panetta.
Rockefeller “thinks very highly of Panetta,” the aide told The Los Angeles Times. “But he’s puzzled by the selection. He has concerns because he has always believed that the director of CIA needs to be someone with significant operational intelligence experience and someone outside the political realm.”
Panetta has no experience in intelligence but a great deal of experience in politics. He served in the House of Representatives from 1976 until 1993. He then became budget director for President Bill Clinton, and then Clinton’s White House chief of staff.
Panetta also served on the Iraq Study Group that issued a report critical of the conduct of the Iraq War in 2006.
Some liberals are hailing Panetta's opposition to the use of torture in interrogating terrorist suspects. In an article last year in the Washington Monthly, Panetta wrote that fear had transformed America from a nation that championed human dignity into a "nation of armchair torturers."
"We cannot and we must not use torture under any circumstances. We are better than that," Panetta wrote.