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Obama Picks Top Spies

Posted on Jan 5, 2009

The president-elect has reportedly chosen Leon Panetta to head the CIA and retired Adm. Dennis Blair as director of national intelligence. Both men bring a mixed bag. Panetta is an experienced bureaucrat, but he’s no James Bond. Blair has been praised for his terrorist-fighting skills, but he was criticized for a supposed conflict of interest that benefited defense contractors.

Related: Mark Ambinder dug up Panetta’s thoughts on torture, and AP has the background on Blair.


President-elect Barack Obama is naming Leon Panetta, a former congressman from California and chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, to be CIA director. Obama also has picked retired Navy Admiral Dennis Blair to be director of national intelligence, overseeing all the nation’s spy agencies, a Democratic official said.

The selection pairs a top military man with a quintessential Washington insider.

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By Manamongsrt, January 6, 2009 at 12:38 pm Link to this comment
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If you hear these self protective “intelligence” professionals.  Then no one but the most seasoned James Bond type could ever do the job of running the CIA.  But that is bullkaka…and you know it, they’re nothing but secret keepers.  But what I believe is the more important variable here is getting the CIA’s thusfar budgetary secrecy and hubris under control.  No one knows what it is, even those charged with knowing.  Not to mention organization, sending operatives into places that are viable and not engaging in cold-war BS.  We need the right kind of translators regardless of sexual orientation,. and the sooner we get pragmatic thinkers in there and the sooner we stop wasting our time the better.

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By Tim Kelly, January 6, 2009 at 11:58 am Link to this comment
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So we have lots and lots of the people that brought us NAFTA, bombed Serbia, starved the Iraqis, and have given the green light to the extermination of Palestinians.

You know, I’m starting to believe in this change - Obama brings in the same people that screwed up bad to begin with, but changes what they do.  I can believe that kind of change occurs.  Screwing things up even more is definitely a form of change.

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By Steve, January 6, 2009 at 9:52 am Link to this comment
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Adm. Blair has some real skeletons in his closet. Long-time Indonesia/East Timor reporter Allan Nairn brought out today the fact of Blair’s blatant complicity in the massacres of civilians in East Timor in 1999. This when he was actually directed to stop them.
Sure everyone’s got a skeleton in their closet, but when a soldier countermands his orders and civilians are massacred I think we have an untenable appointment.

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By Blackspeare, January 6, 2009 at 7:33 am Link to this comment

Leon Panetta!!!——what’s next Dee Dee Myers for FBI Director?!

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By cyrena, January 5, 2009 at 10:28 pm Link to this comment

Great selections, which restores my faith in this on-going set up. No doubt the neocons are still in full force mode for undermining whatever Obama is putting together, but I’m sure he expected that.

It continues to amaze me to hear the ‘centrist’ *accusations*. If ‘centrist’ means returning to a governance by The Rule of Law, (anybody remember that?) then I guess I’m a ‘centrist’ too. In my own perception of these ‘political directions’, which I don’t believe have ever been properly used in that manner, (right, left, center, up, down, sideways are supposed to be geographic or mechanical designators, not intended for ideologies)a return from the DRASTIC radical political extremism that we’ve had for 8 years, back toward some semblance of balance and equilibrium is desperately needed. If that’s ‘centrism’ (which I call balance to avoid crashes like the one we’re currently experiencing) is, then I’m all for it.

“The Media” is still framing the debate from the world view of the neocons, but I think it’s fading fast.

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