It's drizzling on Obama's post-election honeymoon
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The controversy over Panetta’s selection underscores the difficulty the Obama team had in finding someone to run the CIA. Their goal was to find someone that they did not feel was tainted by an association with President Bush’s intelligence policies, including harsh interrogations, wireless wiretapping, and the secret transfer of prisoners to other governments. In November, John Brennan, a top intelligence adviser to the president-elect, withdrew from consideration for the CIA post after protest from human rights groups, arguing he had not been critical enough of the Bush administration’s policies.Skip to next paragraph
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Diane Feinstein, the California Democrat who will chair the Senate Intelligence Committee in the new Congress, responded pointedly to reports of Panetta’s pending selection. "I was not informed about the selection of Leon Panetta to be the CIA director,” she said in a statement. Feinstein went on to say that, "My position has consistently been that I believe the agency is best served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time."
Meanwhile, Congressional Quarterly quoted an aide to West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller, the outgoing Democratic Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, as saying, “Sen. Rockefeller has some concerns about his selection. Not because he has any concerns about Panetta, whom he thinks very highly of, but because he has no intelligence experience and because he has believed this has always been a position that should be outside of the political realm."
Panetta has an impressive resume that includes serving eight terms representing the Monterey area of California. He oversaw billions in secret intelligence spending as director of the Office of Management and Budget. Panetta later served as White House Chief of Staff for President Bill Clinton and had access to the most sensitive intelligence information. In 2006, he was chosen to serve on the Iraq Study Group, a bi-partisan committee established at the urging of Congress.