Dianne Feinstein hinted yesterday that she had reservations about Barack Obama’s choice of Leon Panetta to head the CIA—which could be a problem for Obama, since Feinstein is the new chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “I was not informed about the selection,” she said. “My position has been that I believe the agency is best served by having an intelligence professional in charge.”
That’s a description that doesn’t fit Panetta, a respected political operator without discernible intelligence experience. A senior aide to outgoing Intelligence Committee head John Rockefeller said the senator “thinks very highly of Panetta” but “would have concerns” about his nomination, preferring a director with operational experience from “outside the political realm.” Historically, outsiders have fared poorly at the CIA, but some say one is needed to roll back Bush-era excesses.