When Intelligence Isn’t A Prerequisite For Intelligence Director

A month ago I wrote an article titled, “Obama Searches In Vain For CIA Director Who Won’t Offend Left.”  Well, Obama has at last found a CIA Director, but only at the expense of abandoning any intelligence experience whatsoever as a prerequisite for the job.

I cite again the same Star Tribune article I cited on December 4:

Finding a candidate for CIA chief who has the operational experience and is politically “clean” will be difficult, agreed a current senior intelligence official.

John Radsan, a former assistant general counsel at the CIA, said Obama has to strike a difficult balance.

“They need somebody who rose to the level of a division chief in the clandestine service but didn’t spend too much time” with former CIA directors George Tenet and Porter Goss and current director Michael Hayden.

“But in the senior ranks you can’t escape the reality that the CIA is associated with controversial practices since 9/11,” Radsan said.

Apparently, after a month of searching in vain for an experienced CIA professional who was a committed far-left loonie, Obama just decided to pitch out the whole cumbersome “operational experience” thing.  Being political “clean” (defined as “being pleasing to the far-left) was the much more pressing issue.

It’s that whole “Jack Bauer” drama played out in real life; the people who protect us from the ugliest and most vicious monsters often have to cross lines that liberals cannot bear to contemplate.

Or another protagonist, the Dark Knight himself.  Spectrum Magazine describes the dilemma of heroes who would fight against the most unrelentingly savage evil:

There is no doubt that The Dark Knight can be evaluated purely on a entertainment level. It has all the trappings of the modern Hollywood film — special effects, amazing stunts, romantic interests. But the narrative asks us to journey into deep ethical and moral territory as it confronts the problem of evil which seems so intractable against good action. For Batman to overcome The Joker, it seems he must descend into moral darkness himself. But the question is, can he remain pure, while using evil methods to overcome the evil.

Barack Obama’s first choice for the job, career intelligence professional John Brennan, had fought that battle with evil and had been forced to make certain choices that rendered him “ceremonially unclean” with the far left.  One might argue that actually fighting evil, or even acknowledging that such an archaic concept as “evil” even exists in the first place, might well be the kiss of death for any would be CIA Director as far as the left is concerned.

It’s so much easier to stand on the sidelines and vindictively condemn anyone who gets in the ring to fight evil with bare knuckles (let alone brass ones).  That’s why liberals have historically demonized soldiers as “baby killers” and still continue to protest military recruiting centers, numerous ROTC programs across the country, and even a battleship that helped win World War II from becoming a floating museum.

Who could Barack Obama appoint to the critical position of Director of Central Intelligence without offending these people, who rise up against the very notion of preserving American security?

Enter Leon Panetta, career partisan political hack and Clinton lackey.  Operational intelligence experience: zero, point-zero zero.

We’ve learned since 9/11 that intelligence requires two things: understanding and communication.  The Obama administration is already showing that it values neither in its action to appoint Panetta.  Both gigantic flaws are evident in the outrage of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, incoming Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to a Newsmax article.

Sen. Diane Feinstein is reportedly fuming that Barack Obama picked Leon Panetta as his new CIA Director and neverconsulted with her.

Feinstein, the incoming chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, issued a sharp statement Monday that was a thinly veiled criticism of the pick. It made it clear that she head expected a career intelligence professional – unlike Panetta, who has no intelligence expertise whatsoever – to be leading the CIA.

“I was not informed about the selection of Leon Panetta to be the CIA Director,’’ Feinstein said. “I know nothing about this, other than what I’ve read,’ said Senator Feinstein, who will chair the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in the 111th Congress.

“My position has consistently been that I believe the Agency is best-served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time.'”

The article concludes with this:

Veterans of the CIA were caught off guard by the selection.

“I’m at a loss,” said Robert Grenier, a former director of the CIA’s counterterrorism center and 27-year veteran of the agency who now is managing director of Kroll, a security consulting company.

The lack of intelligence experience puts Panetta at “a tremendous disadvantage,” Grenier told The Associated Press in an interview.

“Intelligence by its very nature is an esoteric world. And right now the agency is confronted with numerous pressing challenges overseas, and to have no background is a serious deficit. I don’t say that he can’t succeed. It may that he can compensate for the obvious deficit.”

Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., ranking member of the committee, raised the specter of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 in questioning Panetta’s experience after reports surfaced that Obama had tapped the former congressman and White House chief of staff to head the CIA.

“Job number one at the CIA is to track down and stop terrorists,” Bond said in a statement reported by The Hill Web site. “In a post-9-11 world, intelligence experience would seem to be a prerequisite for the job of CIA Director.”

But Kit Bond is wrong: “job number one at the CIA” is now to appease the perennially outraged left.

Obviously, we can’t have epic fantasy heroes like Jack Bauer or Batman fighting for us, but now we can’t have a real world intelligece expert such as John Brennan fight on our behalf either.  All that’s left (and I do mean ‘left‘) are political hacks such as Hillary Clinton and now Leon Panetta.

Barack Obama has the political instincts of a weasel.  And now he is putting weasels over our national security apparatus at a time when we face more threats than possibly any time in history.

Update Jan 6, 2009: I would like to add that not only did Dianne Feinstein as the incoming Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman disapprove of Panetta’s total lack of intelligence experience; but Nelson Rockefeller disapproved of it as the outgoing chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

Rockefeller said:

Rockefeller “thinks very highly of Panetta,” the aide said. “But he’s puzzled by the selection. He has concerns because he has always believed that the director of CIA needs to be someone with significant operational intelligence experience and someone outside the political realm.”

And keep in mind that both Rockefeller and Feinstein are reliable career liberal Democrats.

Nevertheless, most political analysts believe the Panetta selection will sail through the Senate conformation proceedings.  Democrats control everything, and they won’t oppose Obama’s selection no matter how stupid and shortsighted it is.

Dick Morris, former Clinton strategist, said something close to the following on Fox News today (Neil Cavuto):

“I know Leon Panetta better than Bill Krystol – I worked for him for two years – and Leon Panetta is as liberal as they come.”

Morris went on to explain that liberals have been at war with the CIA for 50 years; that Carter put Stansfield Turner in to gut the CIA, and that Clinton installed John Deutch for the same purpose.  Both Democratic former presidents had tried and failed to get even more radical candidates through the Senate Confirmation proceedings.  And Morris added that Panetta’s job will be “to decapitate the CIA, not to run it.”

Morris stated that Leon Panetta as Director of Central Intelligence and Eric Holder as Attorney General will result in “the disarmament” of the CIA and the American intelligence system that successfully protected this country for the last 7 years.

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