Panetta Appointment to CIA Under Fire

Posted January 5, 2009 at 6:23pm

The leading Senators on the Intelligence Committee are questioning President-elect Barack Obama’s choice of Leon Panetta as the next CIA director, saying the former top Clinton administration aide may lack the necessary credentials for the job.

Incoming Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and ranking member Kit Bond (R-Mo.) issued separate statements suggesting Panetta may not have the experience necessary to serve as the nation’s top intelligence officer.

Feinstein said she was not aware of Obama’s choice, saying: “I was not informed about the selection of Leon Panetta to be the CIA director. My position has consistently been that I believe the agency is best served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time.”

Bond, while saying he would reserve final judgment, said: “In a post-9/11 world, intelligence experience would seem to be a prerequisite for the job of CIA director.”

Panetta is a former congressman and one-time chief of staff to then-President Clinton.