No Experience in new CIA Chief Somehow Shows Obama’s ‘Clean Break from Bush Administration’?
By: Warner Todd Huston
To paraphrase Forrest Gump, Inexperienced is as inexperienced does. At least that is what comes to my mind when hearing that Barack Obama has picked the inoffensive, completely inexperienced and unqualified Leon Panetta to be the new director of the CIA. Really. Leon Panetta? The onetime director of the Office of Management and Budget Panetta, that Leon Panetta? This old Clinton partisan has absolutely no experience whatsoever with intelligence gathering or the administration of the same. None. Zip. Nadda.
Now, if George W. Bush had picked such an inexperienced man for any government position much less one at cabinet level, the media would have crucified him — in fact, it did if you recount the Harriet Meyers for SCOTUS debacle. So, in “Obama’s intel picks short on direct experience” does the Associated Press scoff at the pick? Do they lambast Obama for picking such a completely unqualified man for CIA in a day when we are besieged on all sides by enemies from whom our ability to gather intelligence is a major weapon of protection? Do they decry this pick of a man with not even the tiniest amount of experience for one of the most delicate and important positions of the day?
Nope. In fact, the AP celebrates it as some sort of proof that Obama made this pick to show he is making a “clean break from Bush administration.” A clean break? How is picking a man with no experience with the intelligence or law enforcement communities to be the new head of the CIA any kind of proof that Obama is breaking with Bush?
WASHINGTON â€“ President-elect Barack Obama’s decision to fill the nation’s top intelligence jobs with two men short on direct experience in intelligence gathering surprised the spy community and signaled the Democrat’s intention for a clean break from Bush administration policies.
If the AP means that by picking Panetta, Obama is breaking with Bush because Bush actually picked qualified candidates for that position, well, then they have a point. But that would hardly be something to celebrate would it? And obviously that is not the AP’s take on this absurd appointment.
The AP goes on to cover for Obama’s long avoidance of this most important pick, pretending it is good that The One waited so long to fill this position.
The Obama transition team’s long delay in selecting CIA and national intelligence directors is a reflection of the complicated demands of the jobs and Obama’s own policies and priorities.
More likely itâ€™s proof that Obama hadn’t a clue what to do and had been dithering over it because he was lost as to what to do.
Even more ridiculously, the AP somehow sees in its tea leaves that this is some “unequivocal message” that he will stand against “torture” and â€œrendition.â€
Obama is sending an unequivocal message that controversial administration policies approving harsh interrogations, waterboarding and extraordinary renditions — the secret transfer of prisoners to other governments with a history of torture — and warrantless wiretapping are over, said several officials.
Really? Leon Panetta? Has Leon Panetta been a leading voice against torture and the rendition program (the very program that Clinton started in the 1990s)? If he has no one was ever aware of this brave Panetta stance!
And then the AP gets even more â€œstupid is as stupid does.â€ The very next paragraph is almost a contradiction to Panetta’s choice.
The search for Obama’s new CIA chief had been stalled since November, when John Brennan, Obama’s transition intelligence adviser, abruptly withdrew his name from consideration. Brennan said his potential nomination had sparked outrage among civil rights and human rights groups, who argued that he had not been outspoken enough in his condemnation of President George W. Bush’s policies.
So, the solution to Brennan not being “outspoken enough” against torture is to pick Panetta who has uttered barely a word about torture at all? What sense does that even make? Why isn’t this lapse in Obama’s logic a cause for the AP to throw a dig at the Obammessiah?
Then we find the AP casually mentioning that Obama did not consult with the incoming head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D, CA). The AP reports that the pick surprised her.
Again, if a Republican had made such a rookie move it would have raised the AP’s eyebrows, but since The One made it the AP reports it as mere matter of fact.
So, what is going on with this ridiculous pick? How does Obama explain it?
A former senior CIA official who advises Obama defended the surprise choice of Panetta, who has no direct intelligence experience beyond a two-year stint in the mid-1960s as a U.S. Army lieutenant. The official said Panetta had been a consumer of CIA intelligence when he was at the White House. He said he was selected for his administrative, management and political skills which will allow him both to control and advocate for the agency.
Because Panetta once read a CIA report, he is now fully qualified to lead the CIA? That sounds like the same sort of logic… or lack thereof… that Obama used to say he himself had foreign policy experience because he once lived in Indonesia as a child!
I’ve not in my life seen so many backflips to avoid even the appearance of criticism in anything that isn’t mere advertising copy. This is a most ridiculous AP effort, to be sure. It is so absurd, in fact, that one is suspicious that Obama wrote it for them and the AP just slapped its imprimatur upon it and then threw it up on the Internet unaltered!
One last point can be made to reveal the media’s hypocrisy here. Remember the universal mantra chanted by the media about Gov. Sarah Palin? The media decried her supposed lack of experience to take on the role of vice president. But now, all of a sudden, experience doesn’t matter in the case of Panetta? Is the role of vp so much more important than that of CIA chief, especially in this day and age?
Yet, now no experience at all in the most delicate and important position for our times is a virtue. It’s simply unbelievable. This is sycophancy of the sickofanciest kind.