Third Party & Independents Archives

Panetta? Is this change? It depends on what you mean by “is.”

The messianic new president’s pick of Leon Panetta as CIA chief leaves only Monica Lewinsky and a few other Clinton leftovers without good jobs with good pay in the incoming administration.

This means that with the possible exception of the new Secretary of State, a sizable constituency of the incoming cabinet are beholding to Slick Willy, whom you might remember was President for eight years starting in January 1993.

If one were irreligious, one might wonder whether this really is “change.” But that would depend on what precisely one means by the word “is,” which, you might recall, has been a historical point of contention among Clintonesque etymologists.

I don’t know any post-election Democrats who’ve been pining for a return of the Clinton White House. And I certainly don’t know any Republicans—although William of the Ozarks has Obama beaten hands-down for entertainment value on the AM side of the dial.

For myself, Grover Cleveland’s administration has a certain nostalgic appeal, except for strong evidence that he and his cabinet are all very dead, making them only slightly less politically viable than Carolyn Kennedy.

Posted by Stephen G. Barone at January 5, 2009 5:56 PM
Comment #273159

Don’t have much recall of Panetta beyond the fact that he was a ‘full blown politician’. But, his appointment to CIA brings more concern to me than any of Obama’s administration selections. I suppose the best modus operandi is to remain unbiased an accepting of any individual selected for any position. But, the intelligence position just makes me draw back a bit. I just have a problem with a full blown politician serving in such a sensitive position. I can point to George Casey or even George Tenet in making my biased point. Most intelligence leaders have come through the defense system. I have an inherit and well placed distrust of politicians. If they know something they will want to sell it or tell it or somehow, capitalize on it. Pay to play should be left to greed and corruption, apart from our intelligence apparatus. People can distrust the government but they really need to have confidence in their intelligence capability. At this point in the game I don’t see what the big deal is over the new ex-commerce secretary. Hillary pushed through a $5M dollar ear mark for a New York outfit that gave a $100k to one of Slick Willie’s projects. Why pick on Richardson? Who was Feinstein advocating for intelligence director?

Otherwise, we have the government we deserve.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at January 5, 2009 6:59 PM
Comment #273161

Panetta won’t go along with torture.

Posted by: phx8 at January 5, 2009 7:15 PM
Comment #273163

Roy, there was another purely political animal in that position once, and he didn’t come out of the military.

George H.W. Bush

Presidents put political animals in that spot because they think the job is purely political. Judging from the war waged on President Bush’s policies from the CIA in the last eight years it is hard to disagree.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at January 5, 2009 7:24 PM
Comment #273164

Other than Clinton as Secretary of State I really haven’t had that much problem with Obama’s cabinet choices. Until now.
I can see trouble coming. Penetta has absolutely no experience in intelligence. This can lead to some very dangerous policies that can leave this country in a very vulnerable position.

Posted by: Ron Brown at January 5, 2009 7:34 PM
Comment #273166

Lee, yeah, didn’t realize that Bush was laying the groundwork for globalization while he was serving as ambassador to China. Don’t know about the more recent director’s but didn’t Tenet cave on WMD info?
Ron, agree. But, going with any unknown entity opens the same can of worms. Just like this guy Madoff, you never know what people will do. Still, a safe bet is desirable in appointing someone to such a sensitive position. Guess we won’t know for a while. Here’s wishing us luck!

Posted by: Roy Ellis at January 5, 2009 8:46 PM
Comment #273168

Stephen -

Just because Obama picked a lot of Clinton-era advisers does NOT mean that he has the same goals or style of leadership as Clinton did. I’ll save you a repetition of how I learned beyond question that a given group of people can have wildly different results from their collective efforts depending on the leader. The leader tells them what he or she wants to happen, and it’s up to them to make it happen.

Or, as a great military leader (Napoleon) once said, “There are no bad regiments, only bad colonels.”

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at January 5, 2009 9:15 PM
Comment #273173

Panetta hasn’t even been officially announced yet…has he?

Perhaps, because of so many foul-ups in our intelligence gathering bunch over the last thirty or so years, Obama decided to put someone in there who actually may change things for the better…

Posted by: Marysdude at January 5, 2009 9:57 PM
Comment #273179

Heard on Dobb’s tonight that Panetta was being put in charge of the agency to make some needed changes. Two ways to read that. I see it as a move to put a ‘yes’ man in charge. Otherwise, they might have picked a military soul to make their changes for them. I just don’t trust them politico’s. If the agency pings the allied intel agency’s as to what they have on Iraq building nukes and they all come up with nothing, maybe that means that Iraq is not building nukes and not necessarily bad intelligence or the lack of intelligence. Bush just spent several billions reorganizing the intelligence agencies. You have to wonder why the CIA needs direct intervention by Obama to get it right. My question is why does he feel he needs a yes man in the CIA.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at January 5, 2009 10:44 PM
Comment #273183

Panetta is a brilliant administrator among other talents. Being a civilian is a plus as far as I am concerned. Heck,that should be a constitutional requirment. The uniformed military has a tradition of acceptance regarding civilian control. The intelligence community is quite capable of setting their own agenda and may well have done so from time to time. They have also made major blunders and committed misdeeds in our name.To name a few we know of: The overthrow of the democratically elected government of Iran and the imposition and support of the brutal Shah; the failure to predict the fall of the Soviet Union leading to the unecessary squandering of billions of additional tax dollars in defense spending; The support of reactionary fascist in dozens of countries all over the world ,especially Latin America. How about drug running? How about assinations? Not much evidence and there will not be. They get rid of evidence for a living.
How about illegal arms shipments? These are just a few. By its very nature oversite is difficult and they are experts in cover up. This is dangerious to a democracy. The more civilian control the better. About the only people less worthy of trust than politicians are spys.

Stephen B
Where else besides the last successful Democratic administation would you propose BHO look for experienced national leaders? He will still be calling the shots. Personally I hope he can do half the job W.Clinton did. Lets see,balanced budget even a surplus,rising wages,lower poverty level, relative peace, aprehension of terrorist, falling abortion rate, low unemployment ….. frankly if W.Clinton were allowed too run, he would still be president, dispite the the rights disgraceful behavior in dragging the nation into areas that should have remained private.

Posted by: bills at January 6, 2009 5:13 AM
Comment #273185

The US intelligence community has undergone vast reorganization, as well as expansion, after the debacles of 9/11 and Iraq. Under such circumstances, it is not surprising that Obama chose a seasoned administrator to complete the reorganization and integration of the CIA into a national unified intelligence system. It is the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) who is the principal intelligence officer of the US not the Director of the CIA. Achieving a unified and integrated system requires management expertise. Panetta brings that experience to the table.

Posted by: Rich at January 6, 2009 9:15 AM
Comment #273186

Rookie for a president and a shyster lawyer for the head of the CIA. That makes me feel safe all over.

Wonder which city will get hit next?

Posted by: Oldguy at January 6, 2009 9:23 AM
Comment #273187


Where did you say you lived??? :)

Posted by: Marysdude at January 6, 2009 9:40 AM
Comment #273188

Bills, your suggested wrongs committed by the agency serves to point out the fact that the agency, in the end, has to serve the President. If Regan had chose not to trade in drugs for arms it would neveer have happened. Agencies don’t do well at cover ups. Administrations have that game unto themselves. Like right now with the Richardson thing. The administration is saying they didn’t know about Richardson’s problems before appointing him, yet the Fed’s had been at it for more than a year. I would suggest it was a President, not the CIA, who wanted the Shah removed.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at January 6, 2009 10:49 AM
Comment #273189

Barone, these folks are NOT beholding to Clinton. That beholding ended on Jan. 20, 2001.

They are now beholding to Barack Obama and Obama says they are beholding to the nation, the nation’s people, and his office in the service of both.

Obama is not Clinton. That has been made obvious by the campaign. And Obama is not going to select folks with no experience in federal governance, nor people he can’t vet, nor people without high recommendations, nor people without proven managerial skills with aspects of federal governance.

He is not going to select folks who may be hostile toward his agenda to solve problems, which leaves a vast number of Republicans out.

Panetta is a great manager by all accounts, and capable and experienced in working bipartisanly. The CIA is run by specialists, the Cabinet head is organizational and establishes the goals in conference with the President and the specialists within. Many have held the CIA Cabinet position who were not CIA specialists within the organization previously, so there is not much unusual about this nomination.

All that said, there is the Senate process which will vet Panetta’s qualifications, and before the public for the most part. A president with education in Constitutional law and a CIA director like Panetta with eminent organizational and managerial skills, seems like a pretty choice to me. But, only time will tell for sure whether that is the case or not, and both Obama and the Senate will hold the responsibility for his selection should it prove to be a poor one. I think they are quite aware of that also.

Do you believe there is some other agenda besides qualified management and organizational skills behind this selection? What is the evidence?

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 6, 2009 11:09 AM
Comment #273203

Roy Ellis,

I question the wisdom of placing a military person in charge of intelligence…perhaps as second for operations, etc., but not in charge. To me it’s a mind-set thing…military, because of training and experience, views the world in terms of offense/defense. I think the intelligence services should look more to right and wrong. Our intel services have had trouble in the past because, in order to glean the most information, thought it had to enter criminal activities, i.e., oil for guns, drugs for money, etc. It got to the point that those service members could no longer distinguish between right and wrong, and as a result lost sight of the grail. We could not note the fall of the USSR because we were too busy hauling cocaine for the cartels. We thought Saddam had WMD because our intel people were too busy making money to pick up on all the false signals.

Perhaps Panetta can swing the system policies from fu-frau, and criminal activities, to actual intelligence gathering and analysis.

One benefit might be, we’d get the information we need without the requirement of torture?

Posted by: Marysdude at January 6, 2009 2:03 PM
Comment #273206

A little “inside” insight…..

Posted by: janedoe at January 6, 2009 2:50 PM
Comment #273208


I’m always on the move. Right now we are in FL for the winter. In a few months we will be back in flyover country, not close to any major cities. If they want to take me out, they will have to catch me as I’m driving my diesel guzzling RV though the city:)


“All that said, there is the Senate process which will vet Panetta’s qualifications, and before the public for the most part.”

There we go again with the big “V” word. The Senate will do nothing but approve Panetta. They don’t want to do anything that would hinder the “Messiah”. And there is always the liberal media, never mind, they will never-never-never say anything against anyone BHO appoints. So much for “VETTING”.

What we do have is a perfect case of “the blind leading the blind”. Like I said, which city will be hit next.

As for janedoe’s link, when a politician, military person, or even CIA director takes the oath of office, he is swearing to uphold and protect the constitution of the United States. The CIA director should be doing that and not swearing allegiance to the president. We don’t need the head of our country’s leading spy agency to spend his time trying to cover the rear-end of a rookie president.

Posted by: Oldguy at January 6, 2009 3:56 PM
Comment #273212

Old Guy, your view denies human psychology. Democrats have just regained power. There is no way they are going to blow their newfound gains in their first months by making unsound or ghost decisions that will come back to haunt them.

I understand your need to pre-judge all things liberal and Democratic as anti-christ-like, but, seriously, try a little common sense. People very rarely screw up on the job in the first couple months. That comes later, after they have gotten used to their positions, if it comes at all.

Panetta will be vetted - and there isn’t anything in his record that even Republicans would balk at except his lack of experience within the Intelligence Community. But, as has been pointed out, no politicians are required to experts or even experienced in their elected or cabinet position prior to their ascent to that position.

The Head of the CIA WILL NOT be going out into the field to do spy work on foreign governments. The cabinet head will need to be able to manage a federal agency, report to the president, have a knowledge of geography, foreign affairs, and international relations, and pass all background and security clearance checks. For these, Panetta is qualified or capable of being brought up to speed prior to taking the position.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 6, 2009 5:41 PM
Comment #273218

Good link, janedoe…thanks. I have not been very familiar with Panetta, but this guy being interviewed seems to know a little about the CIA, and intelligence circles. I’m a little less apprehensive now.

Posted by: Marysdude at January 6, 2009 7:23 PM
Comment #273223


Your right, I do have a habit of seeing things in black and white. I also have a working grasp of human nature. So it remains to be seen about how successful Panetta will be. My money is on his incompetence to handle the job.

PS: I thought BHO was all about change, here’s another Clinton man.

Posted by: Oldguy at January 6, 2009 10:12 PM
Comment #273226

>I do have a habit of seeing things in black and white. I also have a working grasp of human nature. So it remains to be seen about how successful Panetta will be. My money is on his incompetence to handle the job.

PS: I thought BHO was all about change, here’s another Clinton man.
Posted by: Oldguy at January 6, 2009 10:12 PM


Well…it is certainly change from the last eight years…

If you mostly see things in black and white, how can you say Panetta is likely incompetent? Isn’t that statement kinda gray? Or purple? Where has Panetta shown incompetence in the past? Perhaps you see things kinda murky…???

Posted by: Marysdude at January 6, 2009 10:43 PM
Comment #273229

Oldguy What president wasn’t a rookie when they were sworn into the office of president?

Posted by: j2t2 at January 6, 2009 11:37 PM
Comment #273232

OG, If Obama proves to be a change oriented president, would you even admit it? Doubtful. GW Bush brought in his father’s cabinet and administrative personnel, yet, GW Bush’s presidency was vastly different from his fathers.

The cabinet heads DO NOT determine policy direction, the president does. The cabinet heads manage the efforts of those in their agency insuring those efforts comport with the President’s policy direction.

Therefore, again, your argument that Obama bringing in people from the Clinton administration means Obama’s presidency will be a Clinton presidency redux, is enormously flawed.

Here is another example, Ford’s presidency was NOT the same as Nixon’s, despite Ford inheriting Nixon’s cabinet. The President determines policy agenda and direction, NOT the president’s cabinet heads.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 7, 2009 1:34 AM
Comment #273237

Roy E
So you are saying that Reagan purposfully told the CIA to not predict the fall of of the Soviet Union? Wouldn’t surprise me.
Jane doe
And another thank you for the link. Old Guy.please,please take the time to read it.

Posted by: bills at January 7, 2009 6:53 AM
Comment #273241


I watched to link and it does nothing to make me support Panetta.

To all who like to respond to the Oldguy: we are at war on 2 fronts, we face a world wide enemy that is based on religious fanaticism and wants to destroy our way of life, we basically have open borders and cannot or will not try to protect them, we have been hit once and thousands were killed with the promise of being hit again, and we place a man with absolutely no intelligence experience in the position of protecting us by interpreting intelligence. And you say, I am not thinking rationally, I don’t think so.

This appointment was political and not rational. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg, everything BHO does is political. He stated one thing during his campaign and now he changes his mind and you defend him. When he was elected after making illogical statements about “change”, Pres. Bush said, when he gets the intelligence briefings, his “change” policy would change. And so it has. He is nothing more than typical politician, and will do whatever is good for himself or his party. What will you say when his promise of more jobs includes reinstitution of the draft. That is a quick way of increasing employment.

Posted by: Oldguy at January 7, 2009 8:44 AM
Comment #273243

OldGuy, George Herbert Bush had never worked in intelligence before becoming the head of the CIA, either. And he proved to be an excellent CIA director and on that record ran and succeeded in becoming president.

The nomination was highly rational and NOT political. Panetta brings a host of qualifications that will be well used in the position as Director of the CIA. Denying Panetta’s many qualifications does not erase them. It is the Senate’s choice.

If you wanted Republicans to make this choice, you should have demanded FAR Better from them when they controlled policy and administration. You didn’t. Democrats have it now. Bitch all you want, but, your choice of CIA director is irrelevant, now.

The Majority of Americans have put their confidence in Obama’s choices, not your party’s. Reality is what it is. Your party flubbed the wars, flubbed the economy, flubbed education, flubbed the Rx drug program, flubbed Katrina, flubbed the 9/11 attacks, and flubbed the war in Iraq. Why should anyone listen to your party’s voices who wish to prejudge Obama’s choices before he even takes office and makes his nomination choices official?

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 7, 2009 8:58 AM
Comment #273249

“I’m a little less apprehensive now”

You sure about that?

I’m just kidding man :)
Roberts seems to agree with the dude in Jane’s link, so maybe that will quell some of the partisan “concerns.”

Sen. Roberts knows a little about intelligence and Panetta, so maybe it won’t be too bad.

Posted by: kctim at January 7, 2009 11:01 AM
Comment #273278

Oldguy, for all your purported wisdom, you should know that Panetta will essentially be the “office manager”. I don’t think he is going to be out in the field armed with a Mickey Mouse field book and secret decoder ring. It will be the well-trained agents doing what they do best…(but hopefully NOT listening in on us talking to friends in other countries).
You simply have your heels dug in and your mind closed to anything said or done by Obama, Inc. Too bad…’re going to miss out on a lot in the next few years.

We don’t need the head of our country’s leading spy agency to spend his time trying to cover the rear-end of a rookie president.

Well, Dubya might not have always been a rookie, but his rear-end has certainly been catered to by a great number of his appointments.

Posted by: janedoe at January 7, 2009 3:15 PM
Comment #273284

David, concerning #273243 above - whooooo…. But remember, there’s a lot of people who demand that their beliefs must determine the facts, rather than vice versa.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at January 7, 2009 4:37 PM
Comment #273295

Glenn, yes, they can be found everywhere among Party loyalists just as forgiveness and redemption can always be found in the minds of loyal sport team fans regardless of whether their team wins or loses.

It is a peculiar psychology this, but one exploited by those in power for thousands and thousands of years. The us vs. them syndrome I call it. The word we, which is a path to objective assessment and practical application of responsibility is a word loyalists rarely use in debate. Loyalists make horrid diplomats. And horrible diplomacy usually fails to arrive at solutions where groups contest common terroritory, physical, religious, political, financial, whatever.

This cognitive dissonance in all religious groups is precisely what accounts for the history of brutality and war support by all religious group followings, despite their religious tenets to the contrary.

Like I said, it is a peculiar psychology. One I might add, which abates measurably statistically with empirically oriented education. No surprise except to the novices of history and social sciences in which every generation starts off as.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 7, 2009 9:00 PM
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