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Thread: Panetta as CIA Director

  1. #61
    Council Member jkm_101_fso's Avatar
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    Default Washington Post Op-Ed

    Ignatius on Panetta, Blair.


    A Surprise For Langley

    By David Ignatius

    On its face, it's a puzzling choice: Barack Obama selects as his spy chief a former congressman with no firsthand experience as an intelligence professional. Is Obama dissing the CIA? Is he further politicizing this badly bruised agency? What signal is he sending by picking Leon Panetta as CIA director?

    Here's the message, according to Obama's advisers: Panetta is a Washington heavyweight with the political clout to protect the agency and help it rebuild after a traumatic eight years under George Bush, when it became a kind of national pincushion.

    "Leon is not going to preside over the demise of the CIA," explains one member of the Obama transition team. "The CIA needs to have someone who can represent them well."

    This argument for Panetta makes sense. Ideally, the next CIA director would have been an experienced professional -- someone like Steve Kappes, the veteran case officer who now serves as deputy director. But the reality is that the professionals now lack the political muscle to fend off the agency's critics and second-guessers. That's the heart of the problem: The agency needs to rebuild political support before it can be depoliticized.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...010602826.html
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 01-07-2009 at 06:59 PM.
    Sir, what the hell are we doing?

  2. #62
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    Default General Response

    As a general response ..... we tend to forget how messy "winning" can be.
    I'm not sure that Geo Washington would have been looking for a manager - he was looking for folks who wanted to win.

    Year of the Hangman: George Washington's Campaign Against the Iroquois
    http://www.amazon.com/Year-Hangman-W.../dp/1594160139

  3. #63
    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    Opinions from the former-Agency crowd:
    Panetta Is Not Uncured Italian Bacon, by Philip Giraldi. The American Conservative Blog, January 6th, 2009.

    Leon Panetta: An Intel Outsider the CIA Needs, By Robert Baer. Time.com, Jan. 06, 2009

    Leon Panetta? Say It Ain't So, By Mike Baker. Foxnews.com, January 07, 2009.

    Right man for the job, By Melvin A. Goodman. The Baltimore Sun, January 7, 2009.

    00-Huh? Former intel officials react to Panetta CIA pick, by Laura Rozen. Foreign Policy Blog: The Cable, 01/05/2009.

  4. #64
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    Default I found the Ignatius article

    to be the best possible spin on the subject. Even if it is correct and more than spin, the appointment puts the CIA in a politically stronger position than the DNI - the opposite of what Congress intended with its reorganization of the intel community.

    I am not saying that Congress was either right or wrong in what it did - if I had been King, I would have done something different - but Congress had both the authority and the power to change the structure of the intel community in the way it did. This move negates that action - whether as some fear Mr Panetta's job is to dismantle the CIA or, as Ignatius and others suggest, to protect it. My understanding of the intel reforms enacted is that they were to centralize authority for analysis and judgement in the DNI and relegate the CIA to (1) the primary HUMINT collector with some covert action responsibilities and (2) make it one among several all source analytical agencies.

    Cheers

    JohnT

  5. #65
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    Default Good links, Bourbon ...

    You certainly covered the political spectrum. Shows that former agency people are far from being a monolith. Thank you.

  6. #66
    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    More former-Agency opinion:
    Sam Faddis -
    CIA Man: Spies' Reaction to Panetta 'Overwhelmingly Negative', By Jeff Stein. CQ Politics: Spytalk, January 7, 2009.

    Michael Scheuer and Ray McGovern -
    Obama's Picks for Top Intel Jobs Stir Mixed Reactions, PBS Newshour, January 6, 2009.

    Gary Berntsen Thinks CIA Needs 'Leadership Not Management', Fox News, January 07, 2009.

    Dell Dailey (not former-agency) -
    Counterterrorism Chief Praises Panetta, Aviationweek.com, Jan 7, 2009.
    Obama Team Debating Whether Kappes Will Join Panetta and Blair for PEBO Intel Announcement, ABC News, January 08, 2009.

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    Default Box score: 4-4

    Of the named people, I get 3-1 (majority more or less pro) and 1-3 (majority more or less con), in the two sets of links. Another wait and see for post-20 Jan.

  8. #68
    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    Phil Giraldi on his former agency and the current state in which Panetta will inherit it:

    Counter Intelligence: Today’s CIA serves contractors and bureaucrats—not the nation, By Philip Giraldi. The American Conservative, February 23, 2009.

    Senior officers, in denial over their own lack of language and cultural skills, frequently maintain that “an op is an op,” implying that recruiting and running spies is the same everywhere—an obvious absurdity. The Agency’s shambolic overseas assignment process means that officers often receive only minimal language training and are expected to learn the local idiom after arriving at a post, presumably through osmosis. Most fail to do so. Frequently chiefs of station cannot converse with the heads of the local intelligence services unless their counterparts happen to speak English. Officers targeting indigenous political parties or government officials often cannot read a newspaper or speak the local language. Attempts in the 1980s to require language qualification as a sine qua non for overseas assignment foundered due the sheer immensity of the problem. In 1995, only three Agency officers could speak Arabic well enough to understand an Arab speaking colloquially. Seven years after 9/11, there are only five such officers.
    NYPD has sixty officers fluent in Arabic across a range of dialects. Granted, the standards between NYPD and CIA are very different. Still, only five officers... ouch.

  9. #69
    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bourbon View Post
    Still, only five officers... ouch.
    Assuming that it is even true.

    SFC W

  10. #70
    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    Knowing of Georgetown University's involvement in Arabic language training, I doubt the small numbers used here and suggest an understatement has been made.

    Too, deep operatives are not known openly or even somewhat covertly to other operatives, as it should be.

    A bit too open a discussion for my blood as folks worldwide can read this site. Out.
    Last edited by George L. Singleton; 02-24-2009 at 03:23 AM.

  11. #71
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    Default Re-Looking the DNI and CIA director appointments

    On 17 November there was an article in the Washington Post addressing turf wars between the CIA and the DNI. A hasty summary of the article illustrates three areas where the CIA and the DNI are at odds: oversight of covert action, naming the intelligence community representative at National Security Council meetings and appointing DNI representatives to foreign partners and international organizations. While sitting at the Fort Belvoir ILE sattellite campus I began wondering how this intelligence conflict developed. How did two of the premier US intelligence organizations get to be a odds? Simply put, President Obama picked the right people for the jobs, but has them in the wrong agencies.

    President Obama selected Admiral (retired) Dennis Blair and Leon Panetta to the two highest intelligence positions in the U.S. intelligence community. Blair now runs the DNI and Panetta runs the CIA. A better scenario would have been nominating Admiral Blair for the CIA post and Mr. Panetta for the DNI post. This would have placed both individuals in intelligence positions suited to their strengths.

    A quick look into Mr. Panetta’s background reveals limited intelligence positions, but numerous bureaucratic and managerial roles. Panetta served in the Army from 1964 to 1966 as a Military Intelligence officer. He later served eight terms in Congress representing California. He is known for coordination and being a budget guru since he served as the director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Clinton. Panetta had many government positions but only one true intelligence job. Panetta’s Army experience provided limited intelligence exposure and most likely all of it would have been at the operational/tactical level. During his 16 years in Congress he never served on the House Intelligence Committee. Panetta does not possess a deep reservoir of intelligence or counterterrorism experience which would be vital in running the CIA.

    By picking Blair as the DNI, President Obama showed he wants the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to assert itself as the top intelligence agency in the U.S. Given Blair’s military experience it is easy to see how the ODNI is evolving into a more defined and focused agency. It also shows Blair will not sit on the sidelines and let other agencies run amok if he is overall responsible for the IC. Admiral Blair served as the PACOM Commander and as the first Associate Director of Central Intelligence for Military Support at the CIA. These positions exposed Admiral Blair to tactical and strategic level intelligence. However it is possible Blair lacks the managerial skills to effectively interact and maneuver with politics in the beltway.

    Because Blair previously worked at the CIA and the fact that he has a wider background in intelligence indicates he is probably more suited to lead the CIA in lieu of Panetta. Former CIA director Deutch stated Panetta is a “talented and experienced manager of government and a widely respected person with Congress” which only reinforces the argument that Panetta should have been made the DNI since he would manage more and deal with Congress more. Blair is used to issuing orders and following policy and Panetta is used to budget battling and having the ear of the President. I am interested in reading other viewpoints.

    CPT Bird
    Fort Belvoir ILE

  12. #72
    Council Member 82redleg's Avatar
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    Wasn't CIA originally started to provide a single point of consolidation for all national intelligence?

    The bureaucracy (CIA) we had didn't work, so we added a level of bureaucracy(DNI), resulting in them inconflict over roles & responsibilities. Go figure.

    Better to have fired someone (or multiple someones) for the 9-11 failures, and to removed some bureaucratic bull$hit, than to have created a new level.

    Not that it is any different than what we do in the military every day.

  13. #73
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    birdman,

    The 2004 intelligence reforms took away a lot of the CIA's long-standing authority and gave it to a new organization, the DNI, and some CIA people are not happy about it. The CIA used to be the budgetary manager for the IC as well as the gatekeeper for Presidential-level intelligence. Those functions, and more, now rest with the DNI.

  14. #74
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    Entropy,
    I think that is the point. The DNI is now the purse holder, manager of the IC and the direct link to POTUS. But we have an operational guy running the DNI. The CIA is the operator in the IC and we have a budget manager running it who is used to having the ear or POTUS. Seems that somehow this process is stuck on stupid.

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