Sunday, January 11, 2009

Panetta for CIA Chief a Victory for Intelligence Over Experience (in Intelligence)

Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

With a bold stroke, Barack Obama validated much of the confidence I placed in him throughout the Democratic primary, as I became convinced that he was the candidate who could bring intelligence and basic human decency back to our government.

How do I know this? Two reasons: one personal, and the other, simply obvious. Let me start with the latter:

If the choice of Leon Panetta to head the CIA drew such a harsh, defensive, and petty initial reaction from my bad senator, Diane Feinstein (D-War Profiteering), then it has to be a good choice! Although she quickly changed her public tune after intense criticism and outright mockery of her response to the news, first impressions usually tell the real story much better than the political damage control that follows. Al Giordano provides the details as only he can, including a link to this article Panetta wrote for Washington Monthly that sets forth the values of the man that have been so lacking at CIA for as long as I can remember.

The personal reason comes from an experience I had with Panetta when he was a State Senator representing the Monterey area on the Central California Coast. Through my work, I had the misfortune of becoming embroiled in a dispute with one of Panetta’s constituents who was, quite literally, insane. She apparently was determined to air her complaints demands whatever the voices in her head told her to say through a series of letters to Panetta’s office.

Instead of throwing his weight around and demanding that I comply in order to get this constituent off of his back, Panetta wrote me a thoughtful letter asking me to provide my side of the story. Without going into the details, I’ll just say that Panetta not only considered my response carefully, he wrote back (or at least had a staffer write) to express appreciation for my handling of the situation. It was a small gesture, but one that seemed to me at the time to be coming from someone who cared about doing the right thing, in the right way.

More of this in government, please!

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