The New CIA Director
Leon Panetta, former Democratic congressman from Monterey and President Clinton’s chief of staff, has been tapped by President-elect Obama to run the Central Intelligence Agency, two anonymous Democratic officials said January 5.
While Panetta has no hands-on experience in the so-called intelligence world, he has a reputation as a good manager gleaned form both his two-and-a-half year stint as White House chief of staff and, prior to that, head of Clinton’s Office of Management and Budget.
Thoughtful and jocular, Panetta, 70, is well regarded by politicians of both parties. He began his political career in 1966 as a legislative assistant to California’s U.S. Senator Tom Kuchel, a moderate Republican.
Panetta then went to the Nixon Administration serving his head of the Office of Civil Rights within the Health, Education and Welfare Agency a job at which he generated some controversy – at least in the eyes of the White House.
He subsequently changed party registration and was elected to Congress in 1977.
After leaving the Clinton administration in 1997, Panetta and his wife Sylvia created the Panetta Institute for Public Policy at California State University, Monterey Bay. During his 15 years in Congress, Panetta helped created the university, which is on the site of Fort Ord, a shuttered Army base.
He also co-chairs California Forward, a group which realized one of its “good government” goals last November when voters approved Proposition 11 stripping lawmakers of the power to draw the lines of their own legislative districts.
Panetta was a member of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which issued a report in 2006 with 79 recommendations, including major withdrawal of U.S. troops, on how to improve the situation in the war-torn nation.
As CIA director, Panetta would be the administration’s point person in tracking down Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
Other CIA directors, like former President George Bush, have had no prior intelligence experience and succeeded at the job.
From the Panetta Institute’s website, his biography.
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