The Leon E. Panetta Central Intelligence Agency. . .?

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leon_panetta.jpgI have always liked Leon Panetta. He’s human, smart, generally straightforward. I dealt with him a number of times when I was working in the Senate for Senator Jeff Bingaman — and Leon never steered me wrong.
But I’ve always found it a bit amusing that Leon Panetta serves as “Institute Director” of the Leon & Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy at Cal State Monterey Bay. Leon Panetta also serves on the Board of Directors of the Leon & Sylvia Panetta Institute which hosts each year the Leon Panetta Lecture Series and which also is home to the Leon E. Panetta Archive.
Maybe — but innocent til proven guilty — Charlie Rangel was trying to get a gig like this going. Only problem is that Rangel is still in office — and at least Leon and his wife Sylvia have built this public policy center on their own time — and it’s nowhere near as self-branding as the “Clinton Global Inititiave“.
Well, Barack Obama has had to jump through quite a few names — one of them a good friend of mine who no doubt will be DCI in a few more rounds — to settle on Leon Panetta as his new Director of Central Intelligence.
My only question is will we be naming the CIA the Leon E. Panetta Central Intelligence Agency?
Offered in humor. . .
— Steve Clemons

Comments

35 comments on “The Leon E. Panetta Central Intelligence Agency. . .?

  1. DavidT says:

    Steve,
    Thanks for taking the time to respond to my comment. I so appreciate your venturing periodically into your own fray to give your posters feedback.
    Panetta Drive huh? IMHO, that’s a better illustration of your point. For example, if there are number of things named after you at New America it might be a bit excessive but not worth a second look. But if there are a number of things named after you at several different locations, that might be worth a comment.
    However, I guess, as you put it “its sort of a piece of trivia.” My main beef is that its a jab (even if you like Panetta which I gather you do) that could be better understood if one took a slightly more nuanced approach. And more importantly its really an off-hand jab that’s not much related to the CIA appointment that (perhaps inadvertently) raises character questions.
    I would have so much rather read that Panetta might have political chops but because of x, y, and z we really need someone with political skills and intelligence experience.
    I also find it odd that you didn’t acknowledge one of Panetta’s chief positives, on a topic near and dear to your heart, namely his outspoken opposition to torture. If management and political experience in addition to a determination to rid the agency of all the wrong-headed, national-interest undermining efforts of the last 8 years aren’t sufficient, then help us, oh foreign policy wise person, understand (I mean this with all sincerity and respect).

    Reply

  2. Steve Clemons says:

    Happy New Yeat to you as well DavidT. This was not a hit job. I could have done much worse had I tried. I have no beef with what Leon does at the Institute that he works for, is on the board of, and which is named after him….it’s just sort of a piece of trivia. I just learned that he actually lives on “Panetta Drive” — no kidding…
    I have some concerns about Leon at CIA — but I see both sides of the argument. All of the material I put above is out in public but few have looked at it — that’s why I posted it.
    All the best, steve

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  3. DavidT says:

    Steve,
    Another hit job under the label “I find amusing.” I guess I find amusing your need to attack others when you are unable to find substantive reasons for criticizing them.
    Should the Panetta archives be referred to as the “Clemons” archives? Should he not serve on the board of the institute named after him? You’re real beef is with the naming of the institute after him and naming the lectureship after him.
    As someone who I witnessed in person and on television innumerable times I would say he is not particularly self-absorbed (at the very least a great deal less self-absorbed than most politicians). I suspect the naming of the institute was for prestige reasons (in the same way the Drucker School at Pomona was named for Peter Drucker who I would seriously doubt suggested it). The same almost certainly goes for the lectureship which probably increases the chances that people will come to speak so far from DC.
    I also find amusing and seriously egregious (unlike this example) your buddy Joe Biden not only running for reelection and vp at the same time (yeah Lieberman and LBJ did this as well but its not something to be admired) but then after winning insisting that the governor appoint a caretaker so his son could take that office in two years? But then that’s something you wouldn’t even soft-pedal (yeah you mentioned it in the Kennedy post but only in passing).
    What’s most surprising about the Panetta pick is that he would take that job after having served as chief of staff to a president as well as his omb director. In spite of your remarks here I’m betting that he will go down as the best CIA director in many many years (in spite of his lack of intelligence experience).
    I can see how the CIA folks might have some misgivings. On the other hand to have someone that if he needs to can get the President’s ear and has the abilities to bring back high morale to this agency has to be a big plus. He is not interested in furthering his career in this post and is probably taking it merely as an act of service to his country.
    BTW, Happy New Year Steve.

    Reply

  4. Matt says:

    He sort of looks like Michael Scott from The Office.

    Reply

  5. judyo says:

    Ties much of this thread together. I’m still not getting my hopes up; they’ve been dashed way too often of late.
    http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2009/01/really_a_mystery.php

    Reply

  6. Dan Kervick says:

    The above post was by me. I accidentally used the user name I use at another blog.

    Reply

  7. Dan K says:

    Just a few randomly entertained possibilities on what is going on here:
    Perhaps when Obama’s team vetted all the top candidates from inside the community, they discovered there just aren’t many who aren’t tainted by the Bush era ugliness and intelligence failures. So they had to go outside to get an intelligence virgin who isn’t up to his neck in Bush-era crap.
    Panetta has experience dealing with scandal. Re: Lewinsky. Unfortuantely for the spooks, they are about to go though a nasty period of political cleansing and correction, and much of the first part of Obama’s administration at the CIA will probably be devoted to scandal management. With Bush gone, the legal system and Congressional watchdogs are going to be coming for a lot of the Bush riff-raff, who no longer have the gang of crooks in the White House to protect them.
    It is likely the CIA and intelligence agencies are going to be forced to go through a process as brutal and cleansing as the Church commission. So who do the intelligence guys want up there on the hot seat before Congress: Friendly, politically experienced and well-liked Leon Panetta? Or some supercilious, pipe-smoking spook of spooks that everyone in Congress would just love to take down a peg?
    And maybe it is Obama’s perception that the intelligence system is a total fucking byzantine mess, filled with needless redundancies and overlap, and crazy and counterproductive interdepartmental rivalries. Remember, Obama has actaully promised to cut some stuff from the budget somewhere. Panetta is an experienced bureaucrat, and a good guy to preside over any such reorganization.

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  8. citizen spot says:

    Hey, if Obama’s pick of Panetta pisses off DiFi, then it is probably a good thing.

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  9. TonyForesta says:

    Obama’s, and the cowards in the dnc’s refusal to impeach cheney bush and all the criminals in the bushgov does indeed trouble me POA. But we have the play the hand that is dealt us. I hold no delusions about any real change. The predator class owns the government and ever politician including Obama, and the predator class and every politician including Obama advance and promote and immunize the predator class exclusively and singularly. No politician (accept for maybe Kucinich) really cares or concern about, is interested in, or will ever protect, advance, or promote the best interests of the American people. Politicians – all of them are owned and controlled lock stock and barrel by the predator class.
    That said, any incremental improvement, or any reversal of systemic and endimic lawlessness, perversions, treachery, treasons, crimes, and wanton profiteering the shaitan in the bushgov will be welcome. That’ all we, or at least I can hope for in the future. My advise and approach is to get armed, get fit, stock up, and get prepared for the real horrorshow revolution that I believe is certain to come.
    Oh, and any banning of any commentarian (particularly on that viscious slimey thread) is conduct unbecoming and unAmerican.

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  10. Izerc says:

    Here a Hack, There a Hack, Everywhere a Hack-Hack
    Leon Panetta, no experience needed.
    http://www.izerc.com/?p=219

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  11. daCascadian says:

    PissedOffAmerican >”…we need only look to Hamas rise to
    power…”
    Ah yes, Iran-Contra continues which is not a surprise or
    shouldn`t be to those “awake”.
    Given the early public reactions of the intelligence “insiders” I
    would say this was an inspired pick. They really do need to
    climb down off their high horse or be pulled off, whatever it
    takes.
    “A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass
    over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true
    sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true
    that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and
    incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of
    enormous public debt…” – Thomas Jefferson

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  12. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “It is my humble opinion POA that there never was, and never will be any American administration so vile, treacherous, treasonous, criminal, lawless, depraved, heartless, bloodthirsty, and pathologically deceptive as the bushgov……”
    In that case, the fact that Barack Obama has stated that he does not believe that Bush/Cheney have committed impeachable offenses, should scare the crap out of you.
    And for those of you following the monster thread, below, it seems that I have been banned from further comment on that thread, as has my partner, who was good enough to post to that effect immediately after my banishment. Now, she finds she can’t view, or post, on that thread either.
    Interesting.

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  13. TonyForesta says:

    It is my humble opinion POA that there never was, and never will be any American administration so vile, treacherous, treasonous, criminal, lawless, depraved, heartless, bloodthirsty, and pathologically deceptive as the bushgov, – any Obama is certain to be a marked improvement. We were lucky to survive the last eight years with cataclysmic carnage and horrors and crisis we have now because the bushgov fiends and shaitans attempted and intended even more horrors, perversions, treasons, treachery, profiteering, and more radical crimes.
    I understand and appreciate your cynicism, – but we are only now emerging from beneath the dragons wing. Obama is not yet president. I question many of his actions as well, and believe reaching across the isle to republican on anthing is fruitless and suicidal, – but I am still holding hope. It could not possibly be worse.

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  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Leon Panetta needs to fully study the Bay of Pigs and its aftermath. The next one may be in Venezuela or Bolivia or Pakistan but it is coming”
    Actually, if Vanity Fair is to be believed, we need only look to Hamas rise to power to find the latest “Bay Of Pigs” fiasco, ala the Bush Administration.

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  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I find it interesting that Tony assumes that the Democratic leadership is less prone to installing an ass kissing political lackey to the post than the last administration was.
    There is no way in hell that Plame would be considered for the post, as it would imply a credibility to Plame’s assertions concerning Plamegate. If Plame is to be allowed credibility, than it follows that Obama’s Oath of Office would MANDATE the prosecution of Dick Cheney and George Bush for high crimes and treason.
    Considering that Obama has already stated that he is not of the opinion that Bush has committed abuses that rise to the level of impeachment, he dare not lend credibility to Plame’s assertions. By making the assertion that Bush has not committed impeachable offenses, he has already, by implication, declared that Plame is less than credible.
    The saga of Sybil Edmonds, and the Plame affair, fully illustrate the dangers of having CIA leadership that is beholding politically to the White House leadership. Our national security has been compromised by CIA leadership that was willing to ignore intelligence in order to march lock-step with a political agenda.
    It is naive to think that this practice only confines itself to one or the other side of the aisle.

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  16. judyo says:

    Laura Rozen’s new gig and she doesn’t disappoint.
    http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/node/14914

    Reply

  17. News Review says:

    Uhmm.. Panetta might be a good choice.. Thats exactly how Obama’s transition works.. Pick someone not necessarily fit for the job.. It’s worth a try..

    Reply

  18. TonyForesta says:

    Forgive the double post. It was a mistake
    Excellent suggestion Kaatje. Though it appears that Panetta is the Obama choice to head the agency, Ms Plame could and should provide a valuable and experienced service in some high level intelligence capacity.
    From my perspective every single leader in the intelligence community must be replaced because they are all tainted with the foul stench of the systemic lawlessness and wanton disregard for the Constitution, and the American peoples best interests pimped and prosecuted by the bushgov.
    Intriguing suggestion.

    Reply

  19. JohnH says:

    L Matthews raises some interesting questions, particularly in light of Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann’s new book: “Legacy of Secrecy” (not included in Steve Clemon’s list of Bush era DNA books). http://www.buzzflash.com/store/items/1394
    It does kind of beg the question of who is managing whom when the Bush crime family is not officially in charge.

    Reply

  20. TonyForesta says:

    The critical issue is a restoration of the Constitution and the rule in the application of America’s intelligence operations and within the intelligence community. The “thin” intelligence experience is a positive in this regard, because much of the intelligence community, and all of its leadership has been radically corrupted by the systemic lawlessness under the bushgov.
    The alphabet soup of intelligence agencies and organizations must return to a mindset where liberty, the peoples rights, protections, and freedoms are honored, not abandoned in pursuit security.
    Hopefully the CIA will refocus more on America’s foriegn threats, and much less on domestic interests who happen to disagree or dissent with, challenge, question, or oppose the untoward machinations of the bushgov.

    Reply

  21. leo says:

    I remember Panetta as my least liked Clinton staffer, by the end he seemed very self centered and not very loyal.
    So I’d entirely agree with your observations about the Leon Panetta this and that.

    Reply

  22. Kaatje says:

    Steve,
    I just now dropped a note in Obama’s online suggestion box that proposes consideration of Valerie Plame Wilson for appointment as CIA chief. She has operational experience, and appears to have great poise and political savvy. This is not to denigrate Mr. Panetta, whose appoint probably would make more sense in a different agency, e.g., Commerce.
    Maybe someone else has already broached the topic, but I’m just sayin’ … .
    Anyway, thanks for the terrific work you do and for TWN. Love the puppy news, too!

    Reply

  23. L Matthews says:

    I would suggest Mr Panetta do a quick read of Russ Baker’s new book, “Family of Secrets”. It is my understanding that many secret ops are currently coming close to action and may receive the final “OK” prior to Bush leaving office. This feels much like the new Kennedy administration in 1961 except that Kennedy made the mistake of leaving Allen Dulles in office until the Bay of Pigs.
    The CIA has infiltrated corporations, the media, and even the President’s office. To control the CIA and its “Dark Side”, you must lie down with the pigs in the mud. Mr Panetta doesn’t look like he has gotten soiled in his government work.
    After the Bay of Pigs failure and the firing of Allen Dulles, we had the assassination of John Kennedy on November 22, 1963. In Dallas that morning were “Poppy” Bush, Richard Nixon, and of course, LBJ. In Dallas the week prior was Allen Dulles.
    Within weeks after the Warren Commission report where another future President, Gerald Ford served on the committee, there was a dinner party at the home of Jackie Kennedy’s mother. In attendance were Jackie, her mother Janet, Allen Dulles (yes, after Kennedy fired him!), and one George de Mohrenschildt. George was once engaged to Janet’s sister and called “Uncle George by a very young Jackie Kennedy. George also was superfiscially interviewed for 2.5 days by the Warren Commission because he and his wife befriended Oswald and his wife Marina for over a year before the assassination. I find it odd that George who had close CIA ties was close to Jackie Kennedy and Lee H Oswald. George and his older brother, Dmitri, were also very close friends of Edward Hooker, who roomed with “Poppy” Bush for two years while at Andover. Of course, we all know, “Poppy” had been in the CIA since the early 1950’s, right?
    Leon Panetta needs to fully study the Bay of Pigs and its aftermath. The next one may be in Venezuela or Bolivia or Pakistan but it is coming. How Obama and Panetta handle the CIA can make the difference in whether you end like Kennedy or like Nixon. The CIA was involved in both.

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  24. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Sorry Steve. Off topic, I realize. I’ll drop it now.

    Reply

  25. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Further, this provides the logical answer that can be offered when these zionist scumballs like Alan Dershowitz get on national TV, ignore what the Palestinians are enduring, and ask…
    “What would YOU do if someone was threatening your kids with a constant barrage of “deadly Hamas rockets?”
    Why not answer…(?)…
    “Deploy proven defensive weaponry, and stop the majority of the rockets from getting to their targets.”

    Reply

  26. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Who better to manage spooks than a spook?
    I’ve never understood the logic behind putting a political animal behind the reins of the CIA. The Iraq war perfectly illustrates what can happen when you have the head of the CIA firmly planted in the ass of the POTUS.
    And meanwhile, speaking of “intelligence”, I am going to be rude and double post the following, because I haven’t seen it mentioned in the debates concerning this latest carnage in Gaza, and the alleged “rain” of “deadly” Hamas rockets. Its important, and my suggestion, (and hope), that Steve forward this line of discussion to Maddow and Olberman was not made tongue in cheek….
    *****************
    Here is a Haaretz article that would seem to buttress “Humane’s” claims, which can be found at the following link…..
    http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/2008/12/view_from_a_pal/#comment-122206
    One surely must ponder the reasoning behind failing to deploy the Phalanx system. Even if the system had a sucess ratio that was far less than 100%, which is probable, wouldn’t the percentage of Hamas’ rockets that were successfully destroyed justify the cost of the system? (Particularly since these “deadly” rockets are “raining down” on innocent Israeli citizens)
    Apparently, the excuse “self defense” doesn’t actually mean anything if the Israelis are ignoring proven defense systems, does it? Its interesting, but not suprising, that the media here is fond of parroting the Israeli buzz lines, like citing the “rain” of “deadly” Hamas rockets, yet do not examine why Israel isn’t taking known and proven defensive measures to counter this “rain” of rockets.
    Have we really gotten to the point that we have to wade through the internet to find the truth while these lousy fuckin’ propagandists in the main stream media vomit up a steady litany of bullshit, talking points, and tittilating tabloid diversions?
    Wouldn’t it be nice of Steve if he was to forward this information to Olberman and Maddow?
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/954317.html
    Ballistic expert: Israel ignoring option of U.S. anti-rocket system
    By Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent
    Tags: Iron Dome, Israel, Qassam
    Dr. Nathan Farber is a ballistic expert who has been persistently trying, to no avail, to present to the Defense Ministry what he sees as a possibly imminent solution to Qassam fire from Gaza.
    Farber’s suggestion is to deploy American artillery batteries called Phalanx around the Qassam-battered town of Sderot, to intercept the rockets fired by Palestinians.
    The U.S. army has been successfully operating the system in Iraq, where it provides its bases with protection from rockets and mortar shells. Canada is also considering deploying it in Afghanistan.
    Farber told Haaretz his suggestion should not be rejected out of hand. He said that the system could be tested with a budget of no more than $1 million, even in the “battlefield” itself, by deploying one or two Phalanx batteries near Sderot.
    But for some reason the Defense Ministry maintains his suggestion is impracticable, although it has never been tested.
    Farber is not an eccentric – his credentials include vast knowledge of and experience in shells and ballistics. He is an accredited aeronautical engineer, a lecturer at the Technion, Israel’s Institute of Technology, and a veteran of the Israel Military Industries (IMI).
    When his tenure as the IMI missile department’s chief scientist ended, he worked as an advisor to the Israel Air Force and the American Missile Defense Administration. Previously, he had been an IAF anti-aircraft officer and later senior intelligence officer.
    The Phalanx anti-aircraft artillery system, manufactured by the American Reytheon company, was initially developed for battleships.
    A Phalanx battery includes four 20mm-wide shells and radar that tracks the missile, assesses its trajectory and intercepts it from a range of up to a 1.5 km.
    Unlike any other system, Phalanx is capable of firing up to 6,000 shells per minute, which are twice as fast as a Qassam rocket (with a speed of more than a kilometer per second). As of today, the system is installed in some IDF battleships.
    Farber claims that five batteries will adequately cover the western Negev, and will not cause environmental damage. “Because of their exceptionally high speed, the shells that don’t hit Qassams will land in the sea,” he said, “although the chances of a direct hit are high.”
    For years the security establishment has stymied any initiative to develop short- and medium-range missile interception systems, claiming they were wasteful and of questionable efficiency.
    Even after the Second Lebanon War, during which the missile threat on Israel’s home front materialized, the Defense Ministry remained resolute. An expert panel, headed by then Defense Ministry director general Gaby Ashkenazi (the incumbent Chief of Staff), was eventually set up, following pressure exerted by then defense minister Amir Peretz.
    The panel decided to commission Rafael Arms Development Authority to develop two interception systems: Iron Dome, for short-range rockets (like Qassams and Katyushas) and Magic Wand for long-range missiles (up to 200 km), to be developed in conjunction with Reytheon.
    A shadow of malpractice was cast on the decision to allocate a development budget of over NIS 1 billion to Rafael, as one of the panel members, Yedidya Yaari, was the former managing director of the authority.
    The problem remains that Iron Dome will be operative within three years at the earliest.
    “Why not deploy Phalanx batteries in the meanwhile, and protect the residents of Sderot?” asks Farber.
    “It will be cheaper, no less efficient, and above all provide immediate protection. If it’s good enough for the Americans in Iraq, why can’t it be good for us?”
    The Defense Ministry provided no definite answer as to why Farber’s suggestion hasn’t been considered.
    A spokesman said that “while the development of Iron Dome is underway, the security establishment continues to consider other options, including the American LUWD system. So far, we haven’t found a system that meets our demands, but we continue to look into newly developed as well as existing systems.”
    Former deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh said that the Ashkenazi Commission considered every available option and made its decision on a “purely professional basis. The allegations that financial motives were at issue are malicious.”

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  27. TonyForesta says:

    The critical issue is a restoration of the Constitution and the rule in the application of America’s intelligence operations and within the intelligence community. The “thin” intelligence experience is a positive in this regard, because much of the intelligence community, and all of its leadership has been radically corrupted by the systemic lawlessness under the bushgov.
    The alphabet soup of intelligence agencies and organizations must return to a mindset where liberty, the peoples rights, protections, and freedoms are honored, not abandoned in pursuit security.
    Hopefully the CIA will refocus more on America’s foriegn threats, and much less on domestic interests who happen to disagree or dissent with, challenge, question, or oppose the untoward machinations of the bushgov.

    Reply

  28. daCascadian says:

    Day by day, appointment by appointment I grow more impressed with our soon-to-be president`s judgement. January 20th is going to be one joyous day.
    That Aloha spirit keeps on giving.
    Mahalo
    “…it’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine…” – REM

    Reply

  29. alan says:

    Mr Panetta is a good choice. It is ironic how many Clintonistas are in place or set to be confirmed. And Richardson: he gave up his Clintonista credentials. Poetic justice? Too clever by half? Carville: what sayeth you?

    Reply

  30. judyo says:

    Might he be a “house cleaner” ?? Like the other agencies … this one is in the Bush forest after years of misuse. We need a Dyson and then an effective honcho.
    For that matter, I can think of 7 or 8 other agencies in need of the same treatment.

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  31. JP Carter says:

    Steve,
    I think the Panetta move makes sense for the following reasons:
    -No ties to the people that were involved with torture issues.
    -Panetta is a manager and not a “spook”. This puts the control of the CIA in the White House and not Langley. This is consistent with the other cabinet picks – W.H. will control, Panetta will make sure all directives are followed.
    -You do not need to have built a car to run GM. You do not need to be a spook to run the CIA. They will let the people directly below Panetta run the show. Panetta will be the face of the CIA.
    -Obama did not check with D. Feinstein beforehand. That tells me he is willing to throw his weight around and let D.F. know who is running the show.
    I may be in the minority, but I think this was another smart thought-out pick by Obama.
    I think Panetta will make the needed changes and we will be better off.

    Reply

  32. Steve Clemons says:

    judyo — i think that leon panetta’s exposure to the intelligence
    business has been thin. as chief of staff, he was a consumer of
    intelligence — but not a designer.
    And so much of the intel world is now IT bound — real time
    smart systems — that I’m not sure Leon knows that world well
    enough to sculpt it.
    I think his choice means that Obama wants Panetta to roll back
    abuses, torture related stuff, and get rule of law back into the
    system — but it may also mean that intel wont be a priority for
    Obama…or could even mean that the technocrats at CIA are
    essentially going to run their boss.
    All the best,
    Steve Clemons

    Reply

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