Panetta Pick Raises Intel Hackles

Obama defends CIA choice from critics who call him inexperienced
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser User
Posted Jan 7, 2009 10:47 AM CST
Some critics say Leon Panetta had little to do with intelligence-gathering in his previous Washington stint; others say clout is what's needed for a CIA chief.   (Panetta Institute)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama’s choice of former Clinton White House chief of staff Leon Panetta to run the CIA is catching some flak from intelligence professionals, the Washington Post reports. Panetta has no direct experience with intelligence-gathering; says an anonymous official who worked with Bill Clinton’s national-security team while Panetta was chief of staff, “He just didn’t make an impression.”

Obama stood by his guy yesterday, saying, “He brings extraordinary management skills, great political savvy, an impeccable record of integrity.” It’s generally thought that the president-elect turned to an intelligence outsider because most potential choices from inside the CIA were tarnished by association with Bush administration practices. In saying as much, Obama added, “there are outstanding intelligence professionals in the CIA.”