How Intelligence Professionals See Panetta

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Josh Marshall posts an interesting take from a reader who's a veteran intelligence professional:

The issue is not intell guy or non-intell guy. The big issue for Blair and Panetta is strategic or tactical orientation. We are fighting two wars and the warfighter always screams they don't have enough intel or enough of anything for that matter. The dice are so loaded for support to the warfighter that critical strategic intelligence for the President and other senior leaders goes wanting due to time constraints on collection assets.

We need a significant re-orientation away from tactical support by CIA and other National agencies and back to their primary mission - direct intelligence support to the President. The last 15 years have seen an explosion of tactical intelligence capability with the advent of UAVs (which DoD fought against for so long due to the fighter pilot mentality). National systems need to be re-oriented to national priorities and away from tactical or operational desires of the warfighter.

I think the Panetta selection is another indication of the change coming. I was concerned that the selection of Jones as National Security Advisor and Blair as DNI underscored the great concern that I have about the militarization of intelligence. The selection of Panetta, with a much wider and deeper power base than either of them, makes me hopeful in this regard. Panetta is a skilled operator, he knows how to get things done. He knows how to get a budget approved and to make the wheels of government work. He will be a force - both in the Administration and on the Hill -- much larger than any career guy could be. This is good. It gives the CIA the opportunity to re-create itself within the current structure.

In a nutshell, this person is arguing that the CIA's primary mission should be helping the president see the big picture. And that Panetta, by virtue of his stature and bureaucratic skill, is well-suited to the task.

--Noam Scheiber

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