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Thread: Panetta as CIA Director

  1. #21
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    Leon Panetta is a real political player with the Obama administration, but the political response, while muted, isn't good for him. One thing he had going for him was that according to the talk, he really wasn't looking all that hard for a new gig.

    Senator DiFi really sent a message today with her response (Dem CA internal politics at play here). Not likely to get better from here.

    If the incoming administration really wants him in the CIA slot, it will happen. But better be NO SCREWUPS, because otherwise he'll be exiting considerably faster than Bill Richardson, and they won't care how he lands.

    The idea being floated out there is that Panetta will bring a political perspective to things, and he'll be likely to quickly realize the political implications of sensitive information, which isn't always necessarily a bad thing. At least that's one of the ideas being floated out there.

    We'll see....

  2. #22
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    Default I second Schmedlap and Mr. Thornton

    In the assessment that it is troubling to think that Mr. Panetta is the best available.
    The NY Times is reporting that Mr. Panetta was in the intelligence career field(1964-1966) and graduated from the Army Intelligence School.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/05/us...b-panetta.html

    If this is true, then it is also worrisome that he chose not to use this knowledge in serving his country over the next forty years, and instead focused on many other issues. It signifies either a lack of interest in intelligence, its value, or a lack of intellectual curiosity; which is even more disturbing considering the role that intelligence played in the cold war.
    Last edited by davidoff; 01-06-2009 at 04:53 AM.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidoff View Post
    If this is true, then it is also worrisome that he chose not to use this knowledge in serving his country over the next forty years, and instead focused on many other issues. It signifies either a lack of interest in intelligence, its value, or a lack of intellectual curiosity; which is even more disturbing considering the role that intelligence played in the cold war.
    I don't find anything worrisome about Panetta's truly outstanding record of public service. Whether he has the knowledge and experience to make a good DCIA is another question. There's no doubt that its a high risk appointment, although I can see some merit to it as well.

  4. #24
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default If I were a cynic, I'd say he's being picked to

    a. Further politicize the CIA.

    b. Insure the CIA does not sort of subliminally attack the President as they have attacked several previous Presidents including the incumbent.

    c. Serve as a political counterweight to his theoretical boss Dennis Blair.

    d. All of the above.

    Since I'm not a cynic, I won't suggest those things. I will however, have to sort of agree and disagree with Rex, I do see a little merit in the appointment.

    Very little, though...

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    Sorry, Mr. Panetta may be a fine public servant in other capacities, but he is not what I'd prefer to see in the CIA director. Go find Sec Gate's clone - he or she is out there somewhere. If we can't get them to serve, then we should ask ourselves why that is.

    Best, Rob
    Keep in mind that Gates had no apparent special capacity for running DoD when appointed - he was a politically connected spook who became president of Texas A&M. Like Panetta, a fine resume, but not especially well grounded in DoD.

    That one worked out well, and remember everyone considered him a "lame duck" appointment filling in until the end of Bush's turn. Boy were we surprised.
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
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  6. #26
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Keep in mind that Gates had no apparent special capacity for running DoD when appointed - he was a politically connected spook who became president of Texas A&M. Like Panetta, a fine resume, but not especially well grounded in DoD.

    That one worked out well, and remember everyone considered him a "lame duck" appointment filling in until the end of Bush's turn. Boy were we surprised.

    Could be - but he also worked himself all the way up on merit to head the CIA. In my estimate the two men are of very different qualities as are the requirements for the leadership of those institutions. DoD has a history (not always a pretty one) of civilian leadership in its secretaries (deputies, etc.) with a complimentary military component in the JCS, the GCCs, etc. to foster that unequal dialogue. There are official and unofficial checks and balances in the various committees, etc. CIA (and other USG agencies) strike me as a different animal.

    This seems more akin to say, taking a former White House CoS who left the service as a CPT and making him the CENTCOM CDR.

    In any event I wish Mr. Panetta (and CIA) the very best of luck.

    Best, Rob
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 01-06-2009 at 11:36 AM. Reason: added link to SEC Gates' bio

  7. #27
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    Default Perhaps, the Panetta and Blair appointments

    should have been reversed. I have been a believer that the head of the intel community should be an intel consumer, never a producer. With the creation of DNI, the DCIA is the head of a single agency responsible for collection, analysis, and some execution. Therefore, the DCIA should be an intel (or related - eg Blair) professional. By contrast, the DNI should be a consumer like Negroponte, Jane Harmon, or Blair.

    Is Panetta the best we can do? Probably not. But he has some very limited military intel experience, was a consumer as WH COS, and as a member of the Iraq Study Group. Wish him the best, expect less, hope I'm wrong (even though "hope is not a method."

    Cheers

    JohnT

  8. #28
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    Default Things that make you go HMMMMM. . .

    Points to ponder, some drawn from San Jose Magazine article. Draw suitable conclusions.

    --Panetta, a Monterey native, finished his 2-year Army "career" (after a 3 year deferment from his ROTC obligation to attend law school) as an intelligence officer at Fort Ord, which was then a BCT/Infantry AIT post.
    --Panetta got intros from Joe Califano around DC in the process of becoming a Congressional staffer. (excerpt from Wikipedia article on Califano follows as backgrounder):
    In 1964, Califano became a special assistant to the United States Secretary of Defense, and deputy secretary. He was appointed to several committees by President of the United States Lyndon Johnson. In July 1965, he became a special assistant to the president, and served as President Johnson's senior domestic policy aide. He was called "The Deputy President for Domestic Affairs" by The New York Times. He served in that post for the remainder of Johnson's term.
    --Dir CIA nominee (Panetta), Former Clinton Presidency OMB Director/ Chief of Staff and SecState nominee is former Clinton Presidency First Lady.
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  9. #29
    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
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    Default What Ken said

    In spades. The CIA still hasn't recovered from the damage caused by Stansfield Turner. I fear/suspect that Mr. Panetta's appointment is intended to be the killing stroke.
    John Wolfsberger, Jr.

    An unruffled person with some useful skills.

  10. #30
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    As an intel guy myself, I'm not particularly concerned about the lack of intel experience as long as he's willing to listen to adivice from those in the community. Leadership and management ability is more important, IMO, and based on my limited knowledge of Mr. Panetta, he seems to have some skill there. But as I said before, it's a bit of a gamble.

    The biggest worry I have is politicization of intelligence and I will second Ken's cynicism to a certain extent.

  11. #31
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    Default Entropy, would you really want

    the chief of your intel collection and analysis organization to be a fighter pilot (or ship driver, or engineer battalion commander)? That's how I see the nomination of Panetta for DCIA. Actually, I think he'd be a pretty good nominee for DNI but not to this job.That's why, in my previous post, I suggested a reversal of nominations would be better. But, then, P-E Obama is not consulting with me - a former intel guy.

    Cheers

    JohnT

  12. #32
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default We'll see, I guess. I'm with John, hope isn't a plan

    but it's all one can have at this point...

    I just have visions of Schlesinger, Turner -- not politicians but both sent in with a 'disable that monster' mission by a President -- Deutch, Tenet and Goss.

    Particularly the last three, politicians all and not particularly bright ones at that...

  13. #33
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    John,

    I agree that Panetta in the DNI position would make more sense. There are probably better candidates, but "better" all depends on one's criteria, which is highly subjective. We don't know the criteria, but I suspect we'll learn something from the confirmation process.

    My personal opinion is that technical experience is an overrated quality for leadership positions. And it's not like Panetta is completely ignorant about intelligence (especially the relationship between intel and policy) issues given his experience as the White House COS. Understanding that intel-policy relationship and the ability to manage a large organization is more important IMO than direct experience in doing intelligence for that position. Panetta's budget experience is also very helpful.

    My concern is that Panetta may be another Doug Feith and try to do his own intelligence analysis to fit the intel to the policy. That is a question regarding his character and leadership, which I can't speak to. Hence the reason I said the appointment is a gamble

  14. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    would you really want the chief of your intel collection and analysis organization to be a fighter pilot (or ship driver, or engineer battalion commander)? That's how I see the nomination of Panetta for DCIA. Actually, I think he'd be a pretty good nominee for DNI but not to this job.That's why, in my previous post, I suggested a reversal of nominations would be better. But, then, P-E Obama is not consulting with me - a former intel guy.
    Sure seemed to work for Army intel when the upshot of IOSS was to ensure MI LTs be poor copies of combat arms platoon leaders rather than fight big Army and note that officers who were intel experts might actually have a function in the Army.

    (BTW, I too am a former chief of intel collection and analysis organizations, albeit not quite on the size and scale of the little company headquartered in Langley.)

    I concur that Panetta might be a better DNI, but If Ken is right about his mission, he may well move on to be DNI after deactivating CIA.

    If CIA were to be "removed," it would a great moment in the history of Federal bureaucracies. When else have we seen the death of a Federal agency?
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit
    The greatest educational dogma is also its greatest fallacy: the belief that what must be learned can necessarily be taught. Sydney J. Harris

  15. #35
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    Default For purposes of discussion,

    from wm
    If CIA were to be "removed" .....
    let us assume that the agency is "removed". Where would you transfer its various functions ? - remember I'm the low level practice guy who likes concrete real world solutions.

    Serious question, which has been asked by many - some, like Berntsen, say keep but reform the agency (he offers concrete proposals - whether they could or should be implemented is another discussion).

    Others want it "removed" - but are short on concrete redeployments of its functions.

  16. #36
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    let us assume that the agency is "removed". Where would you transfer its various functions ? - remember I'm the low level practice guy who likes concrete real world solutions.

    Serious question, which has been asked by many - some, like Berntsen, say keep but reform the agency (he offers concrete proposals - whether they could or should be implemented is another discussion).

    Others want it "removed" - but are short on concrete redeployments of its functions.
    Pieces could be passed out to other agencies currently in existence; those agencies could have a collection focus, an analytic focus, or both. What would be missing would a central all-source fusion agency, an overarching collection management (CM) activity to make sure that intel collection resources were being tasked appropriately, and a central reporting/dissemination (D) activity to ensure that users get the intel they want in a timely way after production.
    The Analysis, CM & D functions could be dragged up under the DNI.
    Oh golly, isn't that what the CIA Director was really responsible for when he (sexist language intentional as I do not recall the Director position ever being filled by a woman) was also performing as the Director of Central Intelligence (the two are not the same thing) before we reorganized and put in a DNI? Silly me.
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit
    The greatest educational dogma is also its greatest fallacy: the belief that what must be learned can necessarily be taught. Sydney J. Harris

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    Default OK, part of the redeployment solved.

    Now, we have the DI moved under the DNI - and all the analysts are happy.

    What do we do with the following basic functions:

    1. Espionage

    2. Disinformation

    3. Special Operations

    4. Counter-intelligence

    realizing that these functions are generally illegal in the foreign countries where they operate.

  18. #38
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    WM,

    A lot of that already happened with the 2004 intel reforms, though reality is still catching up

    The CIA was stripped of most of its "prestige" responsibilities and by law should just be the HUMINT collection and covert action agency. The DNI and President Bush have slowly been making this the reality - it will be interesting to see if Panetta will complete the process. I'm guessing he will.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    The CIA was stripped of most of its "prestige" responsibilities and by law should just be the HUMINT collection and covert action agency. The DNI and President Bush have slowly been making this the reality - it will be interesting to see if Panetta will complete the process. I'm guessing he will.
    And where does the analytic function go? While it is uneven, from what I've seen there's no one who does it better in the USG (well, INR, but that works in part because it is a rather small shop).

  20. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    Now, we have the DI moved under the DNI - and all the analysts are happy.

    What do we do with the following basic functions:

    1. Espionage

    2. Disinformation

    3. Special Operations

    4. Counter-intelligence

    realizing that these functions are generally illegal in the foreign countries where they operate.
    Except espionage, which is another name for HUMINT to most folks I think, this list comprises "scope creep" missions that should not be part of an intel organization anyway.
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit
    The greatest educational dogma is also its greatest fallacy: the belief that what must be learned can necessarily be taught. Sydney J. Harris

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