Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Panetta, the Bushes and Spying

If and when he is confirmed, Leon Panetta will be running the CIA from the Headquarters Compound in Langley, Virginia, the George H.W. Bush Center for Central Intelligence.

For those who have been fueling an uproar over the proposed new Director's lack of experience in the spook profession, the naming of the CIA's head office may offer some perspective.

In 1998, urging the House of Representatives to approve it, Rep. Porter Goss of Florida said, "Bush demonstrated leadership and trustworthiness at a time when both were desperately needed to help restore confidence in the Central Intelligence Agency and the other intelligence agencies that make up our intelligence community."

The bill was passed with bipartisan enthusiasm, naming the headquarters for a director who had served barely a year and had come to the position with no background in intelligence.

For those who are complaining about Panetta, the story gets worse. Goss, who had been recruited into the CIA in his junior year at Yale and labored in the clandestine services for a decade before being elected to Congress and serving on the House Intelligence Committee, was himself appointed CIA director in 2004 by Bush II and forced out two years later after a rocky tenure.

He left amid what the Los Angeles Times called "distracting battles over bureaucratic turf" and "sinking morale in the spy ranks," described as "another CIA director, his reputation battered, heading for the door with a long list of unfinished tasks."

Barack Obama is apparently hoping for another inexperienced Bush I to straighten out the agency rather than a veteran of the intelligence community to prolong its internecine wars. Congressional Democrats who object to that will have to make the case that his instincts are wrong.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Given all the bruhaha over Burris with Harry Reid and Fienstein over Panetta.. its clear that Congressional Democrats still don't get it.

Voters want time spent on policy/legislation not how they feel on side bar issues. Now lets get the Obama agenda moving.