January 5th, 2009
05:13 PM ET
3 years ago

Feinstein slams Obama CIA head pick

Sen. Dianne Feinstein believes the CIA is best-served by having an intelligence professional in charge.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein believes the CIA is best-served by having an intelligence professional in charge.

(CNN) –- Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the Senate’s incoming Intelligence committee chair, slammed President-elect Barack Obama’s choice of Leon Panetta as director of the CIA Monday.

“I was not informed about the selection of Leon Panetta to be the CIA Director. I know nothing about this, other than what I’ve read,” Feinstein said in a statement. “My position has consistently been that I believe the Agency is best-served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time.”

A Feinstein spokesman told CNN’s Dana Bash that the California senator found out about Obama’s pick after her staff showed her a New York Times report.

"The President-elect will now have a chance to make his arguments,” the spokesman said. “Her next move is to listen."

Feinstein is the new chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. While Panetta’s political career - as a congressman, and as President Clinton’s chief of staff - spans three decades, he has little hands-on intelligence experience.

–CNN’s Pam Benson contributed to this report.

soundoff (244 Responses)
  1. john

    Nice. No intelligence "experience". Bush's war in Iraq is loaded with people like this. Probably good people, but don't have the experience for the job. History always seems to repeat itself

    January 5, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  2. David

    proud American- you don't have to be GOP to read what is going on. You must be an idiot not to see.

    January 5, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  3. To Larry:

    It would be better to consult with the committees on the hill

    January 5, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  4. Former Republican

    WHERE WAS THE OLD HACK WHEN BUSH WAS TARING

    THE CONSTITUTION & OUR ECONOMY TO PIECES ???

    January 5, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  5. Meka

    My understanding, PE Obama dosen't need the approval of Congress in making his Cabinet Selections.

    Congress has the authority to "DISMISS" any Appointment, once the Appointment comes before them!

    January 5, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  6. Larry in Houston

    He was the chief of staff, in the clinton years, so he's got experience.

    January 5, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  7. TexAnnie *-*-*-*-*

    You all are all such experts on everything political. Maybe one of you should have run for President. I'm sure you would have gotten at least 2 or 3 votes.

    January 5, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  8. Democratic voter

    Ms. Feinstein could have found a better way to communicate with Mr. Obama about her concerns. It's not like there aren't enough communications devices. Last time I looked, phones seemed to work pretty well.

    January 5, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  9. 30m-PA-voted Clinton then McCain

    I've always said Obama had poor judgement. Here's yet another example.

    January 5, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  10. Matt

    Methinks someone is angry she wasn't nominated.

    January 5, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  11. ironmen1987

    I've said from the start that i didn't believe the "old guard" dems wanted Obama but they knew he was their best shot at the White House. Repubs didnt want Palin but they needed the christian/womens votes. You can put on a fresh coat of paint but its still an old house....

    January 5, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  12. Dave in NYC

    she's just mad because she found out by reading the NY TImes... guess what Sen. Feinstein, YOU are not the one we elected to make there choices!

    January 5, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  13. melvin

    I DONT CARE

    January 5, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  14. Patricia in Las Vegas

    She looks like she is having a hissy fit in this picture. Is she still mad that Hillary wasn't the presidential nominee? Just curious what her qualification are .... In 1985, at a press conference, she revealed details about the hunt for Richard Ramírez, otherwise known as the Night Stalker, and in so doing angered detectives by giving away details of his crimes, including displaying actual evidence at the press conference. These revelations subverted their investigation and Ramirez left the San Francisco area to commit another murder before he was finally captured in the Los Angeles area

    pretty darn scary!!!!

    January 5, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  15. karen-phoenix

    Penatta was picked for his organizational and business skills. He's a great organizer and I do believe the CIA needs a lot of revamping!!!

    January 5, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  16. JB

    I think ms. feinstein forgot who's the president, and who's the senator. Back off Di.

    January 5, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  17. Matt

    I think what she meant to say was "My position has consistently been that I believe the Agency is best-served by having ME in charge at this time.”

    January 5, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  18. Nebraskan

    She "slammed" him? Exaggeration much?

    January 5, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  19. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Sen. Feinstein. You forgot, experience doesn't matter, just judgement. Don't worry, I'm sure they'll have another gallon of Obama koolade to you ASAP.

    January 5, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  20. Will-South Dakota

    SO WHAT DIANE!!!

    January 5, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  21. Jimmie

    She's a very liberal, but a very smart individual. I agree with the California Senator's statements. I would never support Barbara Boxer, but I more than definitely agree with her on this issue.

    Panetta didn't serve well in the Clinton Administration, so why would he do any better in an Obama Administration?

    Oh...and that remind me, here's ANOTHER member of Clinton's cabinet coming into Obama's. Come on President-Elect Obama, be yourself. Don't follow Bill Clinton's horrid path.

    January 5, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  22. Darth Vadik, CA

    Good for Al, he did not let Coleman steal his seat. You just cant be nice with Republican politicians, you know what they say, "you give them an inch, they will take a mile."

    Not this time.

    January 5, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  23. Grant in Canada

    Wow . . . how arrogant is that on Feinstein's part? I wish I could handle the "official response" to this one......LOL

    "Senator Feinstein's advice was not required for PE Obama to make the decision on his next CIA Direstor. Ms. Feinsteins views are well documented and known to the Transition Team. Sen. Feinstein's only input to the decision is the one vote she holds in the confirmation process."

    When pressed for details, the spokesman offered this additional observation, "If Ms. Feinstein wants to name a cabinet, she needs to run for executive office."

    January 5, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  24. De Ja Vu all over again

    I'm confused did Bill Clinton get elected again?,Seems to be a huge amount of reruns that were not stars in their last jobs.

    January 5, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  25. David Clark

    Lucky you Feinstein you objected to this as aSenator, but the moderator of this forum would have nixed you if you posted a comment. long live fascism at CNN

    January 5, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
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