Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Intelligence

In addition to restoring the credibility of the Department of Justice, much work needs to be done to restore the integrity of our intelligence agencies. The president-elect has been under pressure, and rightly so, to appoint a director of the CIA who is not tainted by the CIA's complicity in unlawful interrogation techniques and other questionable practices during the Bush administration. He surprised many people by choosing Leon Panetta, who has virtually no background in the area.

This appointment immediately came under fire from Senator Feinstein. Perhaps she was just miffed that she was not consulted beforehand, and Joe Biden apparently took care to patch things over in that regard as best he could. But is there any validity to her contention that the director of the CIA should presumptively be someone with background and experience in the agency? Why does she think that is so important? Many other agency heads are brought in from outside the agency that they are called upon to lead. With respect to the CIA, this seems an especially good time to bring in someone from the outside to re-think the agency's role. Could it be that Senator Feinstein and other members of the intelligence sub-committee simply think that they would find it easier to get along with someone who is comfortable with the old ways of doing things, with which they are themselves complicit?

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