timely quote

Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president.

Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, January 5, 2009

Obama's intelligence picks short on experience

From yahoo.com.

It has been almost two months since John Brennan withdrew his name from consideration for the CIA head post. He had been taking fire from human rights groups for not protesting loudly enough about the Bush administration's intelligence gathering procedures.

Now Obama has finally released names for his intelligence directors. Although there was a very long list of highly qualified people for both posts, Obama did not want to pick anyone that had been affiliated with the Bush administration or it's policies. Obama's pick for CIA is former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta and director of national intelligence is Retired Adm Dennis Blair. Blair was the Chief of the US Pacific Forces during 9-11 and was an associate director for military support at the CIA and his selection had been expected. The choice of Panetta has brought questions and concerns from some intelligence professionals.
"I'm at a loss," said Robert Grenier, a former director of the CIA's counterterrorism center and 27-year veteran of the agency who now is managing director of Kroll, a security consulting company.

The lack of intelligence experience puts Panetta at "a tremendous disadvantage," Grenier told The Associated Press in an interview.

"Intelligence by its very nature is an esoteric world. And right now the agency is confronted with numerous pressing challenges overseas, and to have no background is a serious deficit. I don't say that he can't succeed. It may that he can compensate for the obvious deficit."

Sen Diane Feinstein has also expressed some concern about the Panetta pick.
"I know nothing about this, other than what I've read," she said. "My position has consistently been that I believe the agency is best served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time."
Panetta was Clinton's Chief of Staff, and led the search for the CIA director that led to the selection of John Deutch in 1995. Deutch served for 18 months and was later found to have stored confidential material on several unclassified laptops in his possession. He was investigated, but Janet Reno declined to prosecute. Then Clinton pardoned Duetch on his way out of office.

Since 9-11, Bush has spent a large amount of time building the intelligence community back up, removing roadblocks between the agencies (put in place under Clinton) and helping maximize the ability of our intelligence community's ability to gather information. The number of attacks that have been thwarted is much larger than those that have been made public, and maybe that is one of the problems.

Since there have been no attacks or highly publicized failed attacks, the public perception seems to be that there is no more threat. This has led to public dissatisfaction with the Iraq war, misunderstanding the necessities of intelligence gathering and the underestimation of the global threat posed at this time.

With Obama's extreme lack of executive experience (or any other real political experience), the smart money was on him picking people with substantial experience in their selected field. Unfortunately, in this time of instability and terror around the world, picking someone with a poor history and virtually no intelligence experience to run the CIA shows a lack of understanding of what is really going on in the world.


Ex-Dissident said...

He has to split the pot with some of his accomplices. I don't see much difference between Obama and Blago.

Happy New Year.

folly said...

Happy New Year, Ex-D.

The problem I have is that he's putting someone in charge of the CIA that was chief of staff when the rules went in place that shut down communication between the major intel agencies. He has a little experience, but it's all bad.

stevjo said...

Other than seeing the briefs that any otehr WHCOS would see, he has nothing to offer. He has no practical experience in the field; how do you lead a group when you don't understand what that leadership entails? Plus, what you said, Folly. Thirdly, another Clintonite? "Change" you're never going to see.
p.s. Folly ever thought about printing some t-shirts for your site. the header on your site would be perfect.

folly said...

I've thought about opening a cafepress shop, but the four boxes quote is originally from Ed Howdershelt, so it's not really mine to profit from. At least without permission.

Maybe I should send him an e-mail. :)