Sen. Boxer approves Panetta at CIA: a reckless pick in a dangerous time

From the diaries, by Erick
On Monday, January 5, President-elect Obama selected former Cong. Leon Panetta to be the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Panetta’s chief qualification is his utter lack of intelligence experience – meaning that he has not been involved with any of the intelligence activities in the past 7 years that have kept America safe.  This makes him an acceptable candidate to the anti-war left.

Obama’s first choice to head the 20,000 person, $10 billion spy agency was John Brennan, a former top CIA officer with 25 years of experience, including time as a station chief in Saudi Arabia.  Brennan was a leader of Obama’s intelligence transition team.  Obama pulled the plug on Brennan after an uproar from leftwing bloggers that he took his serious job too seriously.

The current Director of the CIA, retired USAF General Michael Hayden, was head of the code-breaking National Security Agency (NSA) for six years before being named the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence for a year.  This level of experience is the norm for leading the America’s top spy agency.

With complete understanding of her Constitutional role to provide “Advice and Consent” in approving a president’s cabinet picks, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the incoming chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, expressed strong reservations about Cong. Panetta.  Sen. Feinstein said, “I was not informed about the selection of Leon Panetta to be the CIA director…  My position has consistently been that I believe the agency is best served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time.”  The outgoing chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Rockefeller, expressed similar reservations.

Then the phone calls from President-elect Obama came in and Sen. Feinstein reversed her stand – but the bell cannot be un-rung, her initial statements ring true: Panetta is dangerously inexperienced to lead the CIA during these times.  With America still engaged in fighting a dangerous foe, one that killed 3,000 people that dark September day in 2001, we need an experienced and steady hand at the CIA.

In contradistinction to Sen. Feinstein’s sobriety regarding a vital national security position, California’s junior U.S. Senator, Barbara Boxer, enthused over the choice of Panetta, saying Obama has, “…picked the right person.”

What Sen. Boxer failed to note was that this Leon Panetta is the same man, who, as President Clinton’s chief-of-staff, recommended John Deutch to be Director of the CIA.  Deutch, was Deputy Secretary of Defense when Clinton named him CIA chief in 1995.  Deutch, another Democrat pick with no intelligence experience, lasted 18 months before leaving the CIA under a cloud.  Deutch’s security breaches were so severe that Bill Clinton pardoned him of wrong doing on his last day in the White House.  No wonder Deutch enthusiastically supports Panetta for a post that neither of them is qualified for.

If Sen. Barbara Boxer votes to confirm Cong. Panetta to be the new CIA Director, and he wins confirmation as expected, a large portion of America’s safety will be the responsibility of a man possessing no intelligence and foreign policy experience.

Chuck DeVore is a California Assemblyman and candidate for the US Senate running against Barbara Boxer in 2010