President Elected Obama’s unexpected choice of Leon Panetta as Director of the CIA has certainly raised a few eyebrows on Capital Hill and in the news media. Key Democratic Congressional leaders and more than a few of the former-CIA-turned-media-talking- heads have gone public with their disappointment/reservations.
Blogger Laura Rozen at Foreign Policy quotes one former CIA employee:
“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.
Over at CNN:
MICHAEL SCHEUER, FMR. CIA OFFICER: I think the impression that will be brought in the intelligence community is that the Obama administration means to punish those people who were defending America through the rendition program or through Guantanamo Bay.
And…(same guy, later on)
….you know, this whole business on rendition and prisons and the rest of it has been a very politicized issue. The fact is, America is much safer today for the people that have been rendered and imprisoned.
Mr. Obama, Mr. Panetta, Mr. McGovern [Ex CIA analyst who supports Obama’s choice] are all very good at wanting to destroy that function, that operation that has protected America. They have nothing to replace it with.
Whoa! Who in the Obama administration is talking about punishment? And what is with this about the rendition (spook pc-speak for all torture) program’s effectiveness?
Perhaps all these guys know something we don’t.
Rumor has it that Seymour Hersh and other veteran reporters covering the intelligence beat are getting ready to unload a boat-load of stories in the next few months about our nation’s “intelligence” misadventures. Hersh, quoted in the UK Guardian:
You cannot believe how many people have told me to call them on 20 January [the date of the next president’s inauguration],’ he says, with relish. ‘[They say:] “You wanna know about abuses and violations? Call me then.” So that is what I’ll do, so long as nothing awful happens before the inauguration.’ He plans to write a book about the neocons and, though it won’t change anything – ‘They’ve got away with it, categorically; anyone who talks about prosecuting Bush and Cheney [for war crimes] is kidding themselves’ – it will reveal how the White House ‘set out to sabotage the system… It wasn’t that they found ways to manipulate Congressional oversight; they had conversations about ending the right of Congress to intervene.’
Then there’s this article over at Vanity Fair last month that essentially rebuts all the arguments made in defense of “rendition” over the last eight years. It ends with the author talking with FBI Director Robert Mueller:
I ask Mueller: So far as he is aware, have any attacks on America been disrupted thanks to intelligence obtained through what the administration still calls “enhanced techniques”? “I’m really reluctant to answer that,” Mueller says. He pauses, looks at an aide, and then says quietly, declining to elaborate: “I don’t believe that has been the case.”
I don’t know whether Panetta is a good choice. I don’t know if there are even any good choices. But I think the complainers are (inadvertently) raising some VERY interesting questions.