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14th January
written by Sean Noble

When Obama announced the nomination of Leon Panetta, I wrote a post that criticized the decision as a mistake and a power play.  I’m rethinking my position based on this op-ed written by Congressman Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), the former Chairman and current ranking Republican on the House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee.

I know Mr. Hoekstra pretty well.  He is a close friend of Congressman John Shadegg and I’ve seen him in action.  He is smart, funny, and very independent.  He went to war with President Bush over the No Child Left Behind bill while serving on the Education and Workforce Committee.

Most importantly, Hoekstra takes his job very seriously.  Since his appointment to the Intelligence Committee, he has worked tirelessly to ensure the United States is as safe as possible.  So when he writes a column applauding Obama tapping Panetta to head the CIA, it deserves notice.

It’s clear from his column that Hoekstra has battled the CIA for years, and he is pretty fed up.  Here is  the operative paragraph of his piece:

The CIA’s repeated failure to keep Congress fully and currently informed requires a shake-up in the Agency’s senior leadership. I am encouraged, therefore, that President-elect Obama has tapped Leon Panetta, a man with significant managerial and Washington experience — outside of the intelligence community — to be the next head of the CIA. I support Panetta’s nomination as part of what I hope will be the first step to clean up the agency and make it more accountable to Congress and therefore the American people. True, he is not part of the intelligence club. That is a positive. A fresh perspective is needed.

If it’s good enough for Pete Hoekstra, it should be good enough for all of us.

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  1. 14/01/2009

    A book came out recently called “Legacy of Ashes,” which has as its central thesis that the CIA has, since its inception in the 1940’s, always been a second rate intelligence agency, way behind those of Russia, England and possibly Israel. The book is a polemic and I don’t agree with all of it, but there are a lot of points that are hard to argue with.

    Basically, the CIA goes through a cycle: abuses are discovered (i.e. the Sen. Church hearings) and our transparent, democratic system demands that the CIA be too open, transparent and accountable to be effective in the rough world of international intelligence. There is then a major intelligence failure (i.e. 9/11) and the CIA is taken completely off the leash. Petty bureaucrats abuse this virtually unlimited power and money to an almost ridiculous extent, the abuses are eventually discovered, repeat cycle. Neither Leon Panetta nor any other leader will likely have a great impact on this.

  2. Ginni

    Hoekstra for Governor in 2010!
    P.S. Love the blog!!

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