March 04, 2009
Dick Cheney is never known for his good cheer, but, when Politico interviewed him recently, he sounded especially dour on the subject of Barack Obama's intentions vis-a-vis counterterrorism. In what seemed like a direct slap at the new president, Cheney warned that national security is "a tough, mean, dirty, nasty business ... and we're not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek." While Cheney didn't come out and say so, he sounded pretty convinced that Obama was planning a civil-liberties bender.
Panetta And Rendition
January 15, 2009
Very interesting story today from Eli Lake drilling down on the question of how involved torture absolutist Leon Panetta may have been with Clinton-era rendition policies, which generally get very little attention but led to some nasty fates for the people snatched up. It's an enthralling question on national-security morality. But until liberals start getting outraged--something I highly doubt we'll see--I don't see this presenting any real problem for Panetta.
Richard Clarke Assesses Obama's Intel Team
January 10, 2009
Counterterrorism expert John O. Brennan was reportedly Obama's original choice for director of the CIA, but he withdrew from consideration after complaints about his past involvement in Bush-era interrogation programs. Now, Obama has appointed Brennan as deputy national security adviser for homeland security--a White House position best described as "counter-terrorism czar"--and has selected Leon Panetta to head the CIA, where he will be subordinate to the Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair. To get some perspective on these appointments, I contacted Richard A.
The Secret History Of Leon Panetta And Dianne Feinstein
January 07, 2009
When Senator Dianne Feinstein heard that Leon Panetta was nominated to be the next CIA director, she wasn't just caught off guard in her capacity as head of the Senate Intelligence Committee. She also found herself confronting an old political colleague--even, at times, a rival--who had suddenly re-emerged on her turf. The two northern California politicians have long overlapped in the context of both state and national politics. In 1995, Feinstein led a fight against the closure of several large military bases in the state, contending that it would have a devastating economic impact.
Is Panetta Experienced Enough?
January 06, 2009
With controversy swirling around Obama's selection of Leon Panetta for CIA chief, we approached a few respected intelligence experts for perspective. Those we spoke to were supportive of the choice and the theory that intelligence experience is not an absolute prerequisite for a good director. Paul Pillar, a professor at Georgetown University and former CIA officer, explained why he feels so confident: I think he'll do fine. ... The director is not a line officer; he's not running cases and doing detailed analyses.
How Panetta Can Win Over Langley
January 06, 2009
Laura Rozen, writing over on her new blog at Foreign Policy, has this withering assessment of Leon Panetta from a "former senior CIA manager": "The message is, 'I don't want to hear anything out of the CIA. Make it go away. No scandals. Keep it quiet,'" the former officer told me. "They put over there a guy who is a political loyalist, who will keep everything nice and quiet, but who won't know a good piece of intelligence from a shitty piece of intelligence, and wouldn't know a good intelligence officer" from a bad one.
Bayh Backs Panetta
January 06, 2009
The high-profile Democrat (remember the Obama-Bayh ticket?) and Intelligence Committee member lauds the choice, as well as the man whom Dianne Feinstein and Jay Rockefeller are said to have preferred. His statement: “Leon Panetta is an outstanding public servant, and I intend to support his nomination for CIA director. We should respect the judgment of President-elect Obama and his commitment to do what’s right for our country. At the same time, I have very high regard for Steve Kappes, the deputy director of the CIA.
Why Panetta? The Gates Factor
January 06, 2009
Leon Panetta seemed to come out of nowhere as Obama's CIA pick. But as the insta-reporting notes, he was a member of the 2006 Iraq Study Group team. Another member of that panel was Defense Secretary Robert Gates--who is himself a former CIA director, remember. Bob Woodward's latest book, The War Within recounts, among other things, a long discussion between Panetta and Gates on the return flight from a fact-finding mission to Iraq.
Is Panetta Right For The Cia?
January 05, 2009
Dianne Feinstein and Jay Rockefeller are unhappy with Obama's surprise choice of Leon Panetta to run the CIA. The beef is that a CIA director should be an intelligence professional without a political background. On the other hand, George Tenet was an outwardly nonpartisan intelligence staffer for years before he was chosen to lead the agency. And we all know how that turned out. The flap over Panetta's selection obscures, incidentally, the arrival of another senior Clinton administration veteran high in the Obama team.
Mark Penn's "old School" Politics
February 26, 2008
Via Ben Smith, this New York Observer interview with Leon Panetta is sort of worth your time. Most interesting portion: Mr. Panetta, who served as chief of staff in the White House from July 1994 to January 1997, and who has contributed $2000 to Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign, complained that Mr. Penn “is a political pollster from the past.” ”I never considered him someone who would run a national campaign for the presidency,” he said. He asserted that Mr.