Biden: Handling of Panetta a 'Mistake'

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2009 6:04 PM CST
Vice President-elect Joe Biden at the Senate re-swearing-in ceremony today.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – Joe Biden defended the pick of Leon Panetta to head the CIA but offered an apology of sorts for the way it was handled, Politico reports. “I think it was just a mistake,” Biden said of not informing top Democrats of the choice, which led to a chiding by Dianne Feinstein yesterday. "I think it's always good to talk to the requisite members of Congress,” Biden continued. “I’m still a Senate man.”

But Biden did not agree with Feinstein’s reservations over a pick who was not “an intelligence professional.” “Leon Panetta is totally qualified for this job,” Biden said. "He has been a consumer of intelligence for a long time.” Feinstein softened her stance today, telling Talking Points Memo that “I understand their thinking." She urged Obama to retain the CIA's No. 2 official to guide Panetta.