Wednesday, January 7, 2009

No-experience President names no-experience CIA chief

I haven’t been blogging about incoming President Barack Obama on purpose. Figured I ought to at least let him get in office before I start taking shots at him (rhetorically).

But his appointment of former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta as his pick for CIA Director has not only blown my cool, it’s also raising hackles and getting outright criticism of Obama for the first time on Capitol Hill. And that’s just from the Democrats all up on their dew claws.

On Capitol Hill, Democrats on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence were still stewing over Obama not consulting them on the choice before it was leaked Monday and continued to question Panetta's intelligence experience. Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. acknowledged that the transition team had made a "mistake" in not consulting or even notifying congressional leaders, and Obama telephoned committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and her predecessor, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), yesterday to apologize.

Note Biden said it was a “mistake” to stiff-arm the Democrats on the Hill, not that it was a mistake to choose Panetta with no qualifications.

David Ignatius at The Washington Post, who of course is an Obama supporter, tries to make a good case for Panetta’s appointment.

As White House chief of staff during the second Clinton term, Panetta was one of the few people who could discipline the omnivorous President Bill Clinton. He sat in on the daily intelligence briefings as chief of staff, and he reviewed the nation's most secret intelligence-collection and covert-action programs in his previous post as director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Now that really gives me the warm fuzzies. Panetta could discipline Clinton? On what and when did it happen during the eight years of the most undisciplined president in our nation’s history? Omnivorous is a very good description of Clinton and Panetta didn’t curb his undisciplined appetites. Where was Panetta when Monica was under the desk?

During those eight years, Panetta and Clinton were busy doing something but it wasn’t paying attention to Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda’s alarming spread from local Mideast terrorists to worldwide terrorists. U.S Embassies were bombed, USS Cole bombed; Clinton and Panetta fiddled while the world caught on fire, bowing out stage left just prior to 9-11 when the threat of Osama finally became obvious to the world.

And that’s Panetta’s only “experience” claim to be CIA director, in charge of the most crucial agency in charge of our national security? Yikes!

Even The Washington Post newswriters don’t agree with Ignatius’ rosy view of Panetta as “experienced” in intelligence from his Clinton post.

A (CIA) official who had worked with President Bill Clinton's national security team while Panetta was chief of staff said he had no recollection of Panetta taking an active role in intelligence briefings or discussions of CIA policy and practice.

"He just didn't make an impression," said the official, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity so he could discuss the matter freely.

There at the daily intelligence briefings with Clinton, but asleep at the switch. Wow, that really makes me feel a lot better, how about you?

We’re in for a long, cold eight years. A President with no executive experience himself is going to staff the agency in charge of our security with someone just like him, no experience at spying, or even listening to talk about it. Panetta will be a disaster added to the coming Obama disaster.

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