Panetta Tapped to Helm CIA

Former Clinton adviser has little intelligence experience
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2009 2:31 PM CST
President Bush, flanked by CIA Director Michael Hayden, right, and Deputy CIA Director Stephen Kappes, at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama will name Leon Panetta, a former congressman and chief of staff to Bill Clinton, director of the CIA, the New York Times reports. Observers were split on the choice of Panetta, who is well-respected for his Beltway savvy but has no specific intelligence experience. Panetta will report to Dennis Blair, the new head of national intelligence, though neither nomination has been officially announced.

One former lawmaker says Panetta would bring “an outside perspective that I think might be helpful at this juncture in the CIA’s history.” Panetta’s glancing experience with the intelligence community came when he ran the Office of Management and Budget. Obama’s search for a CIA chief has been beset by missteps, but Panetta is, in one colleague’s estimation, “a widely respected person with Congress.”