WASHINGTON — Leon E. Panetta, a former congressman and White House chief of staff, has been selected by President-elect Barack Obama to head the Central Intelligence Agency. The choice, disclosed Monday by Democratic officials, immediately revealed divisions in the party as two senior lawmakers questioned why Mr. Obama would nominate a candidate with limited experience in intelligence matters.
The job was the last unfilled major post for Mr. Obama, who has criticized the agency for using interrogation methods he characterized as torture. Democratic officials said Mr. Obama had selected Mr. Panetta for his managerial skills, his bipartisan standing, and the foreign policy and budget experience he gained under President Bill Clinton.
Mr. Panetta has himself been a sharp critic of the agency’s interrogation practices. Some Democrats expressed strong support for the choice, with Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate majority leader, describing him as “one of the finest public servants I have ever served with and dealt with since he left the White House.”
But Madame Military-Industrial Complex and her drinking buddies don't like him:
... Among the lawmakers who expressed skepticism about the choice was Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California and the new chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Ms. Feinstein, who would oversee any confirmation hearing for Mr. Panetta, issued a statement that signaled clear disapproval and said she had not been notified about the choice.
“My position has consistently been that I believe the agency is best served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time,” she said.
A second top Democrat, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the departing chairman of the Intelligence Committee, shares Ms. Feinstein’s concerns, Democratic Congressional aides said.
Ms. Feinstein’s Republican counterpart on the Intelligence Committee, Senator Christopher S. Bond of Missouri, said he would be “looking hard at Panetta’s intelligence expertise and qualifications...”
Doesn't like torture? Or Homeland covert ops? Or listening to everyone and taking names? Or maybe it's because Panetta might not appreciate $600 million dollar contracts handed out to the likes of Richard Blum, Senator Feinstein's husband.
...URS Corp., a San Francisco planning and engineering firm partially owned by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein's husband, landed an Army contract Monday worth up to $600 million.
The award to help with troop mobilization, weapons systems training and anti-terrorism efforts is the latest in a string of plum defense jobs snared by URS. In February, the firm won an army engineering and logistics contract that could bring in $3.1 billion during the next eight years.
Government contracting has come under increasing scrutiny by Congress and citizen groups, with critics decrying the political connections of firms winning lucrative jobs. Richard Blum, Feinstein's husband, serves on the company's board of directors and controls about 24 percent of the firm's stock...
On the Village upside, if Reid says he likes him, it means Panetta's willing to leave the discreet money alone and let the Company work quietly, or at least Reid respects him enough to plant his shiv in his back and not his face.