Category Archive 'Leon Panetta'

24 Jan 2013

Liberal Social Engineering and the US Military

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Leon Panetta

Former Defense Deputy Undersecretary Jed Babbin takes aim at Leon Panetta’s cowardly and disgraceful decision to put women into combat roles.

Panetta’s action will probably complete the destruction of the warrior culture on which the success of our military depends. That culture, developed over the past two thousand years or so, is not uniquely American but our brand of it is. Our warriors take pride in what they do because they do it for America and because they do it better than anyone else. Thus, one of the most important parts of that culture is the objective standards someone has to meet to qualify to join the combat arms.

Every Marine in a rifle platoon, every pilot in a squadron, every special operator has had to meet the standards set for all the others. At least they did until the services began to cave under political pressure to enable women to join combat units. …

Eleven years ago I wrote about the danger of “gender neutralizing” the objective tests for entry into combat arms. That article reported on a British Ministry of Defence study authored by Brigadier Seymour Monroe. In that study, Monroe reported that when the British were trying to fit women into combat roles, they “gender neutralized” — i.e., lowered — their standards so that women who couldn’t qualify under the men’s standards did so under their own.

Who can doubt that the Obama Pentagon will do exactly the same? Why should the men accept anyone — woman or man — who can’t make the same grade they did? They shouldn’t, and they won’t. It will destroy unit cohesion and pride.

That is the principal objection to what the Obama Pentagon is up to. And it will have two effects, both of which are a threat to our national security.

First, by pushing standards down to enable women to qualify, Obama’s Pentagon will reduce the units’ ability to fight. Our guys — and I use the term with malice aforethought — win because they’re better trained and more capable than the enemy. Whenever you reduce the qualifications, you reduce the level of capability and the unit’s ability to win. To lower standards is to increase the risk of defeat.

Second, whether or not standards are relaxed, allowing women into combat arms will break the spirit of many of our warriors whether they be ground pounders, airmen, or sailors.

Our guys do what they do — and do it so well — in part because they’re guys who are members of the most exclusive club in the world: the warriors, the real 1%’ers. Their club’s membership has been 100% men since before Thermopylae. These men understand that they are different — mentally and physically — from women and want to stay that way. They have wives and girlfriends at home. They don’t have them as fellow warriors who they train and fight alongside.

To put women among them would force them to break with their ancient customs, traditions, and beliefs. In short, it would fundamentally change what they are and how they function in combat. The price will be paid in resignations, in declining re-enlistments, and in lives and battles lost.

There’s one more aspect to this, which is the strain Panetta’s act will put on military families. When he decided to allow women to serve on submarines, a lot of Navy wives were really angry. They know their men, and they know that our elite submarine force would become a fleet of submersible Love Boats, and, in too many instances, they have.

What higher price will more military families pay when women are allowed into the rest of the combat arms, serving in remote places in tough conditions with the men beside them?

Panetta’s decision has to be stopped by House Republicans. They can do it if they bar the use of any authorized or appropriated funds for DoD to implement the Panetta policy, a provision that should be in every bill they pass until it becomes law. If they don’t, we should throw the lot of them out.

12 Jan 2012

Comment on Today’s Major News Item

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News.

An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints.

–Kipling

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At Breitbart, Robert K. Wilcox speaks for most Americans.

Pile them up, let them rot, piss on them.

Though, he might have added: Piss also on the mainstream media that deliberately broke this trivial story to get the holier-than-thous on the warpath and to lend aid and comfort to all the enemies of the US military and the United States. And piss copiously on all the left-wing nincompoops, pillow-biters, and bed-wetters, Charles Johnson in particular, who are trying to make political hay at the expense of the young men in Afghanistan standing between their worthless selves and a brutal, fanatical and barbarous enemy.

18 Mar 2010

FOB Chapman Bombing Avenged

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CBS
Thought to be a photo of Hussami

Last week, a predator drone strike in Waziristan sent a number of al Qaeda militants to the Prophet’s Paradise, including a top trainer who helped arrange the suicide bombing at a CIA post in Afghanistan last December.

Bill Roggio
reports.

The US killed a key al Qaeda operative involved in the network’s external operations during an airstrike last week in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.

Sadam Hussein Al Hussami, who is also known as Ghazwan al Yemeni, was killed during the March 10 airstrike in the town of Miramshah, according to a statement released on a jihadist forum.

The March 10 airstrike was carried out by unmanned US attack aircraft and targeted two terrorist compounds in the middle of a bazaar in the town. Six Haqqani Network and al Qaeda operatives were reported killed.

Three other al Qaeda operatives, identified as Abu Jameelah al Kuwaiti Hamed al Aazimi, who served with slain al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi; Abu Zahra al Maghrebi; and Akramah al Bunjabi al Pakistani, were killed with Hussami, according to a translation of the martyrdom statement released on March 12 by Abu Abdulrahman al Qahtani, who is said to be based in Waziristan. The statement was posted on the Al Falluja Forum and a translation is provided by Global Terror Alert. [For more information on Aazimi, see Threat Matrix report, “Al Qaeda operative killed in Pakistan linked to Zarqawi.”]

According to Qahtani, Hussami was a protégé of Abu Khabab al Masri, al Qaeda’s top bomb maker and WMD chief who was killed in a US airstrike in July 2008. Hussami was in a prison in Yemen but was released at an unknown point in time.

Hussami “was involved in training Taliban and foreign al Qaeda recruits for strikes on troops in Afghanistan and targets outside the region,” The Wall Street Journal reported. He “was also on a small council that helped plan” the Dec. 30, 2009, suicide attack at Combat Outpost Chapman that killed seven CIA officials and a Jordanian intelligence officer. The slain intelligence operatives were involved in gathering intelligence for the hunt for al Qaeda and Taliban leaders along the Afghan-Pakistani border.

“Hussami was a skilled operative high up in al Qaeda’s external operations network,” a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal. “He also has direct links to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” the terror branch that operates in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

“He was sorely wanted for his involvement in the COP Chapman suicide attack,” the intelligence official continued. Hussami is said to have been instrumental in helping the Jordanian suicide bomber Humam Khalil Muhammed Abu Mulal al Balawi, who is also known as Abu Dujanah al Khurasani, plan and execute the attack.

Hussami is the first al Qaeda operative killed by the US who is directly linked to the suicide attack at Combat Outpost Chapman. The US has been hunting Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, after he appeared on a videotape with Khurasani.

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Hussami’s death was considered sufficient cause for Leon Panetta to indulge in a certain amount of public self congratulation on behalf of the Agency and the current administration.

Aggressive attacks against al-Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal region have driven Osama bin Laden and his top deputies deeper into hiding and disrupted their ability to plan sophisticated operations, CIA Director Leon Panetta said Wednesday.

So profound is al-Qaeda’s disarray that one of its lieutenants, in a recently intercepted message, pleaded with bin Laden to come to the group’s rescue and provide some leadership, Panetta said. He credited improved coordination with Pakistan’s government and what he called “the most aggressive operation that CIA has been involved in in our history,” offering a near-acknowledgment of what is officially a secret war.

“Those operations are seriously disrupting al-Qaeda,” Panetta said. “It’s pretty clear from all the intelligence we are getting that they are having a very difficult time putting together any kind of command and control, that they are scrambling. And that we really do have them on the run.” …

t he said the combined U.S.-Pakistani campaign is taking a steady toll in terms of al-Qaeda leaders killed and captured, and is undercutting the group’s ability to coordinate attacks outside its base along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

To illustrate that progress, U.S. intelligence officials revealed new details of a March 8 killing of a top al-Qaeda commander in the militant stronghold of Miram Shah in North Waziristan, in Pakistan’s autonomous tribal region. The al-Qaeda official died in what local news reports described as a missile strike by an unmanned aerial vehicle. In keeping with long-standing practice, the officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the CIA formally declines to acknowledge U.S. participation in attacks inside Pakistani territory.

Hussein al-Yemeni, the man killed in the attack, was identified by one intelligence official as among al-Qaeda’s top 20 leaders and a participant in the planning for a Dec. 30 suicide bombing at a CIA base in the province of Khost in eastern Afghanistan. The bombing, in which a Jordanian double agent gained access to the CIA base and killed seven officers and contractors, was the deadliest single blow against the agency in a quarter-century.

This is the same Central Intelligence Agency that is winning on Wednesday that includes elements who leaked to the New York Times for publication two days earlier a story alleging that private contractor efforts which seem to have been succeeding rather well in identifying enemy targets have been conducted in contravention of unspecified Intelligence statutes and International Law, and represented a fraudulent diversion of funds.

If I were Mr. Panetta, I’d be doing something about some of my own internal adversaries, those in the habit of employing leaks and innuendo to undermine Agency efforts in the field. It is also essential to do something to terminate the enthusiastic cooperation of their establishment media allies and enablers. Putting a Hellfire missile into certain offices at the New York Times and the Washington Post may be off-limits, but there is still on the books an Intelligence Act of 1917, which makes it a crime to convey information with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the armed forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies, punishable by death or by imprisonment for not more than 30 years.

If the private contractor operation mentioned by the Times on Monday really was, as seems most probable, a legitimate US Intelligence covert operation, Messrs. Dexter Filkins and Mark Mazetti of the New York Times and their informants could very well be guilty of producing “false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies and whoever when the United States is at war.” False reports or statements in such a case would be punishable by a fine and 20 years in prison.

The Bush Administration chickened out on prosecuting its leakers, and the result has been a dysfunctional situation in which certain members of the Intelligence community are permitted to exercise their own liberum veto over policies and operations.

03 Feb 2010

Top Intelligence Officials Say Al Qaeda Attack Attempt on USA “Certain” in Next Six Months

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Mirandizing Omar Farouk Abdulmutullab could really come back to haunt this administration, if al Qaeda even comes close to succeeding again.

MSNBC:

The Obama administration’s top intelligence officials on Tuesday described it as “certain” that al-Qaeda or its allies will try to attack the United States in the next six months, and they called for new flexibility in how U.S. officials detain and question terrorist suspects.

The officials, testifying before the Senate intelligence committee, also warned of increased risk of cyber-attacks in the coming months, saying that the recent China-based hacking of Google’s computers was both a “wake-up call” and a forerunner to future strikes aimed at businesses or intended to cause economic disruption.

“Al-Qaeda maintains its intent to attack the homeland — preferably with a large-scale operation that would cause mass casualties, harm the U.S. economy or both,” Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair told the committee in a hearing convened to assess threats against the country.

Blair and CIA Director Leon Panetta warned of new threats from al-Qaeda’s regional allies, such as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Several groups appear increasingly intent on attacking U.S. and other Western targets, even as al-Qaeda’s core leadership struggles to regain its footing after repeated setbacks and eroding popular support in the Muslim world, the officials said.

“They are moving to other safe havens and regional nodes such as Yemen, Somalia, the Maghreb and others,” Panetta said. He said al-Qaeda-inspired groups had successfully “deployed individuals to this country,” citing recently disrupted terrorist plots in Colorado and Chicago.

27 Aug 2009

Panetta Being Ousted at CIA?

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All the denials quoted in this ABC News story suggest that Leon Panetta fought too hard to protect Agency employees from a Justice Department witchhunt, and the skids are already greased to ease him out of the CIA Directorship.

Amid reports that Panetta had threatened to quit just seven months after taking over at the spy agency, other insiders tell ABCNews.com that senior White House staff members are already discussing a possible shake-up of top national security officials.

“You can expect a larger than normal turnover in the next year,” a senior adviser to Obama on intelligence matters told ABCNews.com.

Since 9/11, the CIA has had five directors or acting directors.

A White House spokesperson, Denis McDonough, said reports that Panetta had threatened to quit and that the White House was seeking a replacement were “inaccurate.”

According to intelligence officials, Panetta erupted in a tirade last month during a meeting with a senior White House staff member. Panetta was reportedly upset over plans by Attorney General Eric Holder to open a criminal investigation of allegations that CIA officers broke the law in carrying out certain interrogation techniques that President Obama has termed “torture.”

A CIA spokesman quoted Panetta as saying “it is absolutely untrue” that he has any plans to leave the CIA. As to the reported White House tirade, the spokesman said Panetta is known to use “salty language.” CIA spokesman George Little said the report was “wrong, inaccurate, bogus and false.”…

In addition to concerns about the CIA’s reputation and its legal exposure, other White House insiders say Panetta has been frustrated by what he perceives to be less of a role than he was promised in the administration’s intelligence structure. Panetta has reportedly chafed at reporting through the director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, according to the senior adviser who said Blair is equally unhappy with Panetta.

“Leon will be leaving,” predicted a former top U.S. intelligence official, citing the conflict with Blair. The former official said Panetta is also “uncomfortable” with some of the operations being carried out by the CIA that he did not know about until he took the job.

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Commentators from the perspective of the right were not pleased by the prospect of Leon Panetta’s appointment, and back in January we were rooting for him to withdraw his name.

If Leon Panetta has actually fallen on his own sword as the result of defending the Agency against the desire of the democrat party’s moonbat base for sacrificial victims, I’m prepared to say that I did not give Panetta enough credit. He’s a better man, and made a much more worthy CIA director, than I had believed.

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Spook86 adds support to the stories of Panetta’s impending ouster by quoting a particularly horrifying rumor.

Under ordinary circumstances, we’d call for Panetta’s resignation, but his potential replacements would be far worse. One name making the rounds is Massachusetts Senator John F. Kerry, who served in Vietnam.

Kerry as CIA Director? God help us.

A traitor for CIA director? What could be a more obvious choice for Barack Obama?

16 Jul 2009

Panetta Killed CIA Assassination Program, Then Tattled

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According to the Washington Post, the plan to send out hit teams of CIA assassins to whack major al Qaeda figures was (8 years later) coming close to becoming operational when new CIA Director Leon Panetta learned of it, yelled Eeeck!, pulled the plug, and ran crying to Congress.

Good thing we elected Barack Obama president, isn’t it?

We wouldn’t want American intelligence officers running around shooting terrorists, would we? Without a formal hearing, without providing them with counsel from top law firms or access to major media reporters? That would be hasty, violent, risky, and (at least from some Buddhist perspectives, and that of much of the contemporary community of fashion) simply wrong.

CIA officials were proposing to activate a plan to train anti-terrorist assassination teams overseas when agency managers brought the secret program to the attention of CIA Director Leon Panetta last month, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The plan to kill top al-Qaeda leaders, which had been on the agency’s back burner for much of the past eight years, was suddenly thrust into the spotlight because of proposals to initiate what one intelligence official called a “somewhat more operational phase.” Shortly after learning of the plan, Panetta terminated the program and then went to Capitol Hill to brief lawmakers, who had been kept in the dark since 2001.

The Obama administration’s top intelligence official, Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair, yesterday defended Panetta’s decision to cancel the program, which he said had raised serious questions among intelligence officials about its “effectiveness, maturity and the level of control.”

I think it’s time to deal properly with al Qaeda terrorists. First of all, they clearly have grievances, so Congress should add a provision entitling then to TARP payments. We all know that the fundamental basis of all terrorism is always economic inequality, so if Goldman Sachs can get TARP money, why not al Qaeda prime?

Their violent behavior clearly is a way of externalizing emotional discomfort with being fanatical adherents of a medieval, intolerant sect associated with a backward culture widely looked down upon and despised. Counseling is clearly in order.

Instead of trained teams of CIA assassins, perhaps the Obama administration will instead organize a new, more progressive answer, sending out teams of legal aid attorneys to assist indignant ghazis in securing financial reparations for Western slights, along with crack platoons of therapists and anger management counselors to help the bitter and offended mujahedin to just get over it.

Instead of hellfire rockets fired from helicopters or drone aircraft, the Obama administration might start delivering Pilates equipment and yoga mats to Taliban training camps.

13 Jul 2009

Congress and the CIA’s Secret Plan

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Now we know, at least vaguely, what was behind the accusations against the CIA made in that June 26th letter from seven democrat House members.

After some months on the job, Leon Panetta learned of an inactive, never really implemented but potentially controversial, CIA program, initiated in the direct aftermath of 9/11, which proposed assassinating some important al Qaeda leaders. It would appear that such shenanigans were too Jack Bauer for the Bush Administration, so despite ink being spilled, findings being drafted, and probably warrior spooks training with silenced pistols off somewhere in the Virginia woods, nothing real ever came of any of this.

But good little Leon felt obliged to tattle anyway, and seven democrats thought the opportunity to play Gotcha! with the Agency was too good to miss. Ergo, the famous letter of June 26th. The Sunday Times dutifully clocked in yesterday with a deeply-troubled, chin-stroking article about the perfidy of Dick Cheney in concealing such dastardly doings.

The Wall Street Journal today actually supplies a lot more of the substance.

A secret Central Intelligence Agency initiative terminated by Director Leon Panetta was an attempt to carry out a 2001 presidential authorization to capture or kill al Qaeda operatives, according to former intelligence officials familiar with the matter.

The precise nature of the highly classified effort isn’t clear, and the CIA won’t comment on its substance.

According to current and former government officials, the agency spent money on planning and possibly some training. It was acting on a 2001 presidential legal pronouncement, known as a finding, which authorized the CIA to pursue such efforts. The initiative hadn’t become fully operational at the time Mr. Panetta ended it.

In 2001, the CIA also examined the subject of targeted assassinations of al Qaeda leaders, according to three former intelligence officials. It appears that those discussions tapered off within six months. …

One former senior intelligence official said the program was an attempt “to achieve a capacity to carry out something that was directed in the finding,” meaning it was looking for ways to capture or kill al Qaeda chieftains.

The official noted that Congress had long been briefed on the finding, and that the CIA effort wasn’t so much a program as “many ideas suggested over the course of years.” It hadn’t come close to fruition, he added. …

(A) small CIA unit examined the potential for targeted assassinations of al Qaeda operatives, according to the three former officials. The Ford administration had banned assassinations in the response to investigations into intelligence abuses in the 1970s. Some officials who advocated the approach were seeking to build teams of CIA and military Special Forces commandos to emulate what the Israelis did after the Munich Olympics terrorist attacks, said another former intelligence official.

“It was straight out of the movies,” one of the former intelligence officials said. “It was like: Let’s kill them all.”

The former official said he had been told that President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney didn’t support such an operation. The effort appeared to die out after about six months, he said. …

(I)n September 2001, as CIA operatives were preparing for an offensive in Afghanistan, officials drafted cables that would have authorized assassinations of specified targets on the spot.

One draft cable, later scrapped, authorized officers on the ground to “kill on sight” certain al Qaeda targets, according to one person who saw it. The context of the memo suggested it was designed for the most senior leaders in al Qaeda, this person said.

Eventually Mr. Bush issued the finding that authorized the capturing of several top al Qaeda leaders, and allowed officers to kill the targets if capturing proved too dangerous or risky.

Lawmakers first learned specifics of the CIA initiative the day after Mr. Panetta did, when he briefed them on it for 45 minutes.

What is really going on here is an attempt to gratify the democrat party’s bolshevik base with a little more witch hunting for Bush-Cheney war crimes, combined with the same party’s Congressional efforts to grab micromanagement control of US Intelligence operations.

Sensible people, and even Christopher Hitchens, have argued for some time that the battle with Congress over the CIA was lost long ago. It is past time to abolish the current agency, sell that campus at Langley for a football stadium, and establish a brand new unfettered agency operating covertly and free of Congressional oversight out of anonymous offices.

16 May 2009

Panetta Defends Agency; Speaker Under Fire

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The Hill:

CIA Director Leon Panetta challenged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s accusations that the agency lied to her, writing a memo to his agents saying she received nothing but the truth.

Panetta said that “ultimately, it is up to Congress to evaluate all the evidence and reach its own conclusions about what happened.”

Pelosi (D-Calif.) infuriated Republicans this week when she said in a news conference that she was “misled” by CIA officials during a briefing in 2002 about whether the U.S. was waterboarding alleged terrorist detainees.

Panetta, President Obama’s pick to run the clandestine agency and President Clinton’s former chief of staff, wrote in a memo to CIA employees Friday that “CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing ‘the enhanced techniques that had been employed,'” according to CIA records.

“We are an agency of high integrity, professionalism and dedication,” Panetta said in the memo. “Our task is to tell it like it is — even if that’s not what people always want to hear. Keep it up. Our national security depends on it.”

In the pep talk-style memo titled “Turning Down the Volume,” Panetta encourages CIA employees to return to their normal business and not to be distracted by the shout-fest Pelosi’s remarks created.

“My advice — indeed, my direction — to you is straightforward: Ignore the noise and stay focused on your mission,” Panetta wrote. “We have too much work to do to be distracted from our job of protecting this country.”

In what may be the most critical moment of her speakership, Pelosi is under fire about what she knew of the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the Bush administration and when she knew it.

At the same news conference where she accused the CIA of misleading her on the topic, Pelosi acknowledged for the first time that she knew in 2003 that terrorism suspects were waterboarded. She said she learned that from an aide who sat in on a briefing in February 2003.

For weeks, Pelosi had dodged questions about what she knew about waterboarding and when she knew it. Republicans have called her a hypocrite for criticizing techniques as “torture” when she tacitly agreed to the practices after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. At least one lawmaker — Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) — called on Pelosi Friday to step down as Speaker.

07 Jan 2009

Panetta Appointment Sinking

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Most blogs produced by retired Intelligence Community professionals are either moderately or severely negative.

Jeff Stein quotes a retired operations officer:

A retired senior CIA operations officer who quit last summer after 20 years tracking terrorists says the rank-and-file reaction to President-elect Obama’s choice of Leon E.Panetta to run the spy agency has been “overwhelmingly negative.”

Charles “Sam” Faddis, who led a CIA team into northern Iraq before the 2003 invasion, says he had “already heard from a large number of rank and file within CIA on this choice, and the reaction has been overwhelmingly negative.”

Faddis added:

    “These are people who are sweating blood everyday to make things happen and living for the day that somebody is going to come in, institute real reform and turn the CIA into the vital, effective organization it should be. To them this choice just says that no such changes are impending and that all they can look forward to is business as usual.”

A number of field operatives have voiced similar sentiments to me since word spread Monday that Obama had chosen Panetta, a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton known for his budget expertise, to run the CIA. Panetta was also a Democratic congressman from the Monterey area of California from 1977 to 1993.

“His credentials do not warrant the appointment, especially in a wartime footing,” said one CIA operative who has been pursuing al Qaeda in Afghanistan, in a typical remark.

Faddis, who was working on nuclear nonproliferation issues when he left the agency in May after 20 years as a covert operator, called Panetta “a disappointing choice.”

    “I am a big supporter of President-Elect Obama,” Faddis added, “but Panetta is not the guy we need to run CIA right now. He may be a very good man. (But) he knows nothing about intelligence, particularly human intelligence” — recruiting and managing spies

“The central problem at CIA is that it is not doing a very good job of collecting the information it was created to collect,” Faddis said.

    “To fix that you need to get down in the weeds and really address the nuts and bolts of how CIA is performing its mission. You cannot do that unless you understand the business, and, frankly, you probably can’t do it unless you have been out on the street doing the work yourself.”…

Voices from below decks insist that’s not enough to get a grip on what they call a self-serving, insular corps of middle managers in the clandestine service, which, they say, has become hidebound and risk adverse.

“When Panetta ends up sitting in a room with the senior ‘spooks’ from the agency, and they start with the smoke and mirrors and obfuscation, how is he going to cut through that?” Faddis asked, echoing a common view. “He’s not.”

“No matter how well intentioned he is or how intelligent, he does not have the background. He does not even speak their language. He will end up like Porter Goss did, sitting in an office, talking on the phone, and, at ground level, nothing will change,” Faddis maintained.

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Spook 86 (20 year veteran of military intelligence):

Mr. Obama is entitled to the CIA Director of his choice. But the selection of Leon Panetta is a reflection of the next commander-in-chief and his own, limited intelligence experience. A few weeks ago, the president-elect named retired Navy Admiral Dennis Blair as the new Director of National Intelligence. Like Mr. Panetta, Admiral Blair has a long resume as a leader and administrator. But in terms of intel, his only experience is as a consumer.

The big-picture view is even more disturbing. President-elect Obama, a man who is decidedly short on national security experience, has appointed a pair of neophytes to fill our most important intelligence positions. Those men, in turn, are supposed to advise him on the most critical (and sensitive) intel and national security issues. That planned “arrangement” doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. …

Panetta may be a sop to liberal bloggers and activists who torpedoed John Brennan, the CIA veteran said to be Mr. Obama’s first choice to run the agency. Brennan was unacceptable to those elements of the Obama coalition because of his support for the “forceful” interrogation of suspected terrorists.

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Emily Francona
(former Air Force officer and staff member, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence):

Given the complexity of intelligence issues and the many real or perceived intelligence failures in the history of that agency, a thorough professional understanding of the intelligence profession is indispensable for effective leadership of the CIA. It is precisely because this agency needs reforms to produce more timely and actionable intelligence for U.S. national security decision-making, that its director must understand the capabilities and limitations of the intelligence business, and not be fooled by insiders’ ability to “wait out one more director.”

Some of the very qualifications touted by Panetta’s fans are not desired or needed by a director: he does not need “the ear of the president” since that is the function of the DNI. Nor does this position require political savvy, since that is not a function of any intelligence agency director. In fact, it would be downright counterproductive, given repeated criticism of the “politicization of intelligence” in recent years. …

Mr. Panetta: with all due respect to your fine public policy credentials, decline this appointment for the good of the intelligence community and the decision makers it serves. You would make an effective governor of California!

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MacRanger aka Jack Moss (retired Army):

Well for that matter why not pick Al Franken, or James Carvell, or even Chris Matthews? Too bad he’ll fly through the surrender-crat senate for confirmation. Hopefully though he get’s ZERO cooperation from the field and he get’s “set up for failure”, so that his term is short. This should tell you all you want to know about how serious Obama takes our national security. But then again he did say that his goal was to disarm us didn’t he? …

His only qualification seems to be his stance against interrogation techniques that have saved thousands of lives.

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But Valerie Plame’s pal, retired CIA officer Larry Johnson pooh poohs the Intelligence experience requirement, and argues that the CIA director just needs to be well tuned to the foreign policies perspectives of the liberal establishment so that he can keep the President ot of trouble with the New York Times.

I am a tad amused by the insistence that we need a CIA director with “intelligence” experience. Really? Then why in the hell is the CIA Headquarters named for a guy who was, by this criteria, one of the least experienced CIA Director’s ever named. I refer of course to George H. W. Bush. …

In terms of temperament Leon Panetta reminds me a lot of Bush 41. Both are politicians but neither seemed to relish the partisan blood feuds that have become the norm in Washington over the last twenty years.

But Panetta has some decided advantages over George Bush Sr. Unlike Bush senior, he served as White House Chief of Staff and headed up the Office of Management and Budget. So he actually goes into the job with more management experience the Bush 41 ever had. …

Do we want someone who has been to a CIA training center and completed the Field Officer’s Training Course? Sorry, I do not think any of the CIA Directors in the last fifty years have done that. Richard Helms and William Colby had OSS experience. I don’t think they ever did FOTC.

Do we want someone who understands the difference between intelligence collection and intelligence analysis? Absolutely. And I think Panetta meets that bill. Do we want someone who understands how certain decisions based on imprecise or inadequate information can damage irreparably a Presidency? Yes! …

Does Leon Panetta have the personal strength to tell a President keen on pursuing a foreign fiasco to steer clear? I do not know the answer to that.

If the answer is ‘no” then the legacy of Panetta at the CIA is already foretold. He will be another war story about a bad Director. If the answer is “yes” then we may be on the threshold of an era of enlightened leadership at the CIA. I hope for the sake of our country that it is the latter and not the former. I am certain of this–Leon Panetta has enough experience in Washington to know what will destroy you and what is truly lasting. I believe he is smart enough to seek the latter.

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UPDATE

They leaked all over George W. Bush, and now spooks disgruntled by Obama’s choice of an outsider to head the Agency have run right over to tell their troubles to the Washington Post, which dutifully obliges with a helpful headline: Obama Is Under Fire Over Panetta Selection .

Meanwhile, in a press interview reported by the New York Times, Obama seemed to be backing carefully away from the Panetta appointment.

Question: Some are – some are questioning Leon Panetta’s lack of intelligence – lack of experience on intelligence matters. Sorry about that. I know this is tricky for you since you haven’t announced it yet, but what does he bring to the table for you?

Obama: Well, as you noted, I haven’t made – haven’t made a formal announcement about my intelligence team.

(cell phone rings)

Obama: That may be him calling now… finding out where it’s at.

Obama: I have the utmost respect for Leon Panetta. I think that he is one of the finest public servants that we have. He brings extraordinary management skills, great political savvy, an impeccable record of integrity.

As chief of staff, he is somebody who – to the president – he’s somebody who obviously was fully versed in international affairs, crisis management, and had to evaluate intelligence consistently on a day-to-day basis.

Having said all that, I have not made an announcement.

It looks like Leon Panetta had better start reading the job ads all over again.


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