Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Parrotheads Beware, Leon Panetta Named Top Spook

Beware the mean streets of Steamboat Springs, especially if you are a fan of Jimmy Buffett. Seems some special forces guys put some quarters in the jukebox at 12:35 pm in one of the local bars, and some other guys thought their selection was in poor taste. the group had the presence of mind to take it outside to the parking lot, where one guy got beaten to death. The local cops are a bit shaken that there were no weapons involved, just fists and feet.

So, in a moment of quiet and reflection, I offer you this:

Wastin' away again in Margaritaville
Searching for my lost shaker of salt
Some people claim that there's a woman to blame
But I know its my own damn fault

California Senator Diane Feinstein and head of the Intelligence Committee, came out smokin' and swingin' at the announcement from the Obama team that Leon Panetta would become Director of the CIA. She said that not only wasn't she asked for her opinion, but that she wasn't notified before the information was leaked, and that she wanted someone with a lot of field experience in the job. Way to go to show solidarity Senator, but your massive ego is in plain view... again.

The Director's job is mostly cosmetic, as its a political appointment. He can influence hiring and firing, and schmoozes as a liaison between the intelligence community and the executive branch. He also implements policy and can help bring together a cohesive working environment, or let it all fall to pieces like the former Florida Congressman, CIA operative, Head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, flunky and stooge Porter Goss did from 2004 to 2006.

Part of the problem is that our intelligence services are designed to not work with one another, and there is a lot of duplicate functions being done, and lack of communications between each other, and measuring the size of their huevos... Supposedly this is supposed to vanish with the current rearrangement of hierarchy, with the benefit of usable and intelligent intelligence reaching the White House. Except that is not really happening. The CIA has gotten most major political worldwide events wrong, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to Iraq's nuclear weapons program, that the intelligence it gathers and the conclusions drawn from it has been rendered to be useless. During the Bush administration most older veterans were hounded to retire and/or leave.

Its thought that a capable manager like Leon Panetta can only help the CIA regain its credibility. The daily intelligence briefings will be a lot better, the analysis more sound, geared for someone with Obama's world view, not Bush's lack of one.

I had been wondering if Obama was going to use Leon Paneeta. I had lived on the Monterey Bay for over 31 years, and watched his career and was always impressed with how well thought out his ideas were. His policy think tank has given him more prestige on the international level these past 8 years. So, using him in the administration is a very good use of resources, although it's ironic that Mr Panetta expressed more interest in the Secretary job that Bill Richardson just vacated. We'll see if he wrangles his way into that post, or continues on to battle Ms Feinstein during the confirmation hearings.

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