Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Obama Selects Jesuit Schooled Leon Panetta for CIA Chief



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Obama Selects Jesuit Schooled Leon Panetta for CIA Chief

Panetta to Be Named C.I.A. Director

By Carl Hulse AND Mark Mazzetti

Leon E. Panetta, the former congressman and White House chief of staff. (Kevin Wolf/Associated Press)President-elect Barack Obama has selected Leon E. Panetta, the former congressman and White House chief of staff, to take over the Central Intelligence Agency, an organization that Mr. Obama criticized during the campaign for using interrogation methods he decried as torture, Democratic officials said Monday.

Mr. Panetta has a reputation in Washington as a competent manager with strong background in budget issues, but has little hands-on intelligence experience. If confirmed by the Senate, he will take control of the agency most directly responsible for hunting senior Al Qaeda leaders around the globe, but one that has been buffeted since the Sept. 11 attacks by leadership changes and morale problems.

Given his background, Mr. Panetta is a somewhat unusual choice to lead the C.I.A., an agency that has been unwelcoming to previous directors perceived as outsiders, such as Stansfield M. Turner and John M. Deutch. But his selection points up the difficulty Mr. Obama had in finding a C.I.A. director with no connection to controversial counterterrorism programs of the Bush era.

Aides have said Mr. Obama had originally hoped to select a C.I.A. head with extensive field experience, especially in combating terrorist networks. But his first choice for the job, John O. Brennan, had to withdraw his name amidst criticism over his role in the formation of the C.I.A’s detention and interrogation program after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Members of Mr. Obama’s transition also raised concerns about other candidates, even some Democratic lawmakers with intelligence experience. Representative Jane Harman of California, formerly the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, was considered for the job, but she was ruled out as a candidate in part because of her early support for some Bush administration programs like the domestic eavesdropping program.

In disclosing the pick, officials pointed to Mr. Panetta’s sharp managerial skills, his strong bipartisan standing on Capitol Hill, his significant foreign policy experience in the White House and his service on the Iraq Study Group, the bipartisan panel that examined the war and made recommendations on United States policy. The officials noted that he had a handle on intelligence spending from his days as director of the Office and Management and Budget.

Mr. Deutch, now a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said Mr. Panetta and Dennis Blair, who was selected by Mr. Obama to become director of national intelligence, were an “absolutely brilliant team,” and called Mr. Panetta a “talented and experienced manager of government and a widely respected person with congress.”

He said that given global environment, there are indeed good reasons for Mr. Obama to select a C.I.A. veteran to lead the C.I.A. But he said that two of the agency’s most successful directors, John McCone and George H.W. Bush, had little or no intelligence intelligence experience when they took over at C.I.A.

“He will bring a wealth of knowledge of the government to the C.I.A. post and an outside perspective that I think might be helpful at this juncture in the C.I.A.’s history,” said Lee Hamilton, the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group.

As C.I.A. director, Mr. Panetta would report to Mr. Blair, a retired admiral. Neither choice has yet been publicly announced. The C.I.A. has settled down from years of turmoil after the Sept. 11 attacks and fallout from flawed intelligence assessments about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs.

At the same time, it faces uncertainly about where it fits in the constellation of spy agencies operating under the director of national intelligence. In recent months, Michael V. Hayden, the current C.I.A. director, has clashed with Mike McConnell, the current director of national intelligence, about Mr. McConnell’s efforts to fill top intelligence jobs overseas with officers from across the intelligence community, not just the C.I.A.

Mr. Panetta, a native of Monterey, Calif., served eight terms in the House representing his home region before becoming the chief budget adviser to President Bill Clinton in 1993. He then served as Mr. Clinton’s chief of staff from July 1994 to January 1997.

Given the focus on the intelligence apparatus in the wake of the terror attacks and the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, Mr. Obama’s selections in the intelligence field are expected to be closely examined.

Mr. Hamilton said that if confirmed, Mr. Panetta will have the advantage of moving to the agency headquarters in Langley, Va. with a strong relationship to Mr. Obama, which can translate into influence within the broader intelligence community. He said Mr. Panetta’s lack of hands-on intelligence experience can be supplemented by others.

“You have to look at the team,” he said. “You clearly will want intelligence professionals at the highest levels of the C.I.A.,” he said.



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Leon Edward Panetta (born June 28, 1938) is a Democratic politician and scholar from California's Central Coast. He served as White House Chief of Staff to Bill Clinton, and before that was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1976 to 1993. He is the founder and director of the Panetta Institute, serves as Distinguished Scholar to the Chancellor of the California State University system and is a professor at JESUIT Santa Clara University teaching public policy. On January 5, 2009, FOX News reported that he will be named by President-elect Barack Obama as CIA Director.

Early life and schooling

Leon Panetta was born in Monterey, California, the son of Italian immigrants who owned a restaurant there. He was raised in the Monterey area, and attended Catholic schools St. Carlos Grammar School and Carmel Mission School. He continued his education at Monterey High School, a public school where he became involved in student politics. As a junior he was Vice President of the Student Body, and became President of the Student Body as a senior.

In 1956 he entered Santa Clara University, and in 1960 he graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. He also received a Juris Doctor in 1963 from the Santa Clara University Law School, and soon after began practicing law.

In 1964 he joined the United States Army as a Second Lieutenant. There he received the Army Commendation Medal, and was discharged in 1966 as a Captain.


Joint Ocean Commission Initiative

* Commissioner and Co-Chair[10]

Pew Oceans Commission

* Commissioner[11]

Bread for the World

* Board of Directors

National Marine Sanctuary Foundation

* Member of the Board of Directors[12]

New York Stock Exchange

* Co-chairman of the Corporate Accountability and Listing Standards Committee

* Board of Directors since 1997

Close Up Foundation

* Board of Directors, Member since 1999

Connetics Investor Relations

* Board of Directors since March 2000[13]


* Co-chairman of the Corporate Accountability and Listing Standards Committee

* Co-chairman of the Corporate Credibility Advisory practice

* Member of the International Advisory Board

Junior Statesmen Foundation Inc.

* Trustee since 2004

Public Policy Institute of California

* Board of Directors since 2007[15]

In June 2002 the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops put him on their National Review Board[16], which was created to look into the Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal. This created controversy because of Panetta's pro-choice stands on abortion and other views seen as conflicting with those of the Church.

In January, 2009, Panetta was nominated by President-elect Obama to head the CIA.


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