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. Godfrey

    If anybody thinks that Obama marches to the beat of a master, you are simply clueless!

    And if you think he is inexperienced, you are brain dead!

    Feinstein just does not get it......

    Obama is not her boy, but her Master!

    January 5, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  2. Arkansas Undertaker

    I didnt know that the President Elect had to check with Senator Fienstein on the decisions of the people he wants in his cabinet, Not who she feels has the most experience as head of the Intelligence Committee.

    January 5, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  3. Matt

    @ Maria

    I hardly think Feinstein's bitter blather bothers the rest of the Senate. It's just sour grapes that she didn't get the nod...well, that and a little free press via some fabricated controversy.

    January 5, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  4. ran

    Based on what I have seen so far he or really anyone else could do no worse. Maybe we need someone who doesn't have a lot of " intelligence experience" to run the department the right way.

    January 5, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  5. Vicki5

    Oh, I didn't realize she has to approve. I still think her "I am God" attitute isn't going to help her any. She should have listened BEFORE she spoke out.

    January 5, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  6. Al Ram

    Senator Feinstein if you want a CIA director that you like, please run for the presidency and if you win you will have the chance to appoint one. Else, accept it.

    January 5, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  7. Preston

    Sen. Feinstein's idea of a worthy nominee was John Roberts for Chief Justice. It should also be recalled that she was an ardent supporter of Hillary Clinton as the party's nominee. Thanks, Dianne, for going so far out of your way to criticize publicly our next President. Perhaps you should keep your ego and your unfortunate self-serving opinions to yourself.

    January 5, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  8. Marc PDX

    What a surprise that Obama doesn't know what he's doing! It takes more than "hope" and a slogan to actually be the president. Look at his resume! (Oh, there isn't one.) Didn't any of you learn ANYTHING from the failure of the Bush presidency? You just elected jimmy carter back into office because he promised everything would be wonderful (again). “Those who don't learn from history, are doomed to repeat it”.

    January 5, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  9. Joan , Ontario

    Did the chairman of all of the other committees know of the selections before they were announced? Probably not. She seems to think she was slighted because of her importance but maybe they have a policy of not telling anyone outside of their circle to keep leaks from spilling out. She should be supporting her President now more than at any other time. Did she want the job herself?

    January 5, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  10. Sarge in Florida

    Senator Feinstein, since when does President elect Obama needed your permission? I'm a Democrat and the people that voters choose in California amazes me...Regan, Nancy, Arnold...I agree with Dr. Miami that all elected officials should be termed limited...We always need new and fresh blood in there..We are in the 21st century and have members of congress who are still thinking the way they did in the 19th and 20th century's..Some so old that they need help getting to the podium...LOL

    January 5, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  11. Jason

    Feinstein needs to shut up and keep quiet or she will get the boot. She's another useless politician and we need to bring in people that know how to fix our problems and Barack has done a great with that thus far.

    January 5, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  12. robert williams

    To adequately defend and best protect our country from those who would harm us, one would expect those americans most seasoned and experienced in the intelligence community to be among those from whom a CIA chief is chosen. I'm unaware of any such distinctly essential and clearly indispensable experience in Leon Panetta's background.

    January 5, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  13. Franky

    She can reject this position for all I care, LOL!! What is she gonna do, huh? Give a essay on how to be a member of the CIA?? LOL!!!

    Wow, I'm scarred of her, she looks more tough than Gov Palin...

    January 5, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  14. Marc PDX

    LOL...pretty soon the only person in this administration that is not from the Clinton administration will be Obama. So, Hillary really did win this thing after all!

    January 5, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  15. Ms. Smith

    Nothing inappropriate about a Senator responsible for intelligence matters (Feinstein) becing consulted first, before an appointment was made; nor is it inappropriate for her, as said senator, to voice her objection and the reasoning for it (which she did) Some of you supporting Obama seem to think it necessary to "destroy" verbally any credibility in a belief in the Constitutional doctrine of balance of power. The President represents the Executive Branch, one important part of our government. Senators and House Representatives were originally intended, by our Founders, as representing the most important branch - Congress. So, why not educate yourselves a little more and shoot off at the mouth a little less about issues some of you seem unbelievable ignorant of.

    January 5, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  16. Diana

    Who's picking all these people Clinton or Obama its going to be Clinton years for the next 4 years and that wasn't great big change huh maybe next he might pick Monica for a title

    January 5, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  17. mary, colorado springs

    Don't judge the man before he is even in office. Just because he doesn't have experience in the intelligence field isn't a foregone conclusion he will not be efficient in performing what is necessary for the position. Anyone going into a new position will be a novice until they have been in that position for awhile. Give the man and all the others he has chosen a chance before screaming "help".

    January 5, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  18. Deb

    Who cares if Feinstein agree....Last time I checked Obama was the President Elect. I'm sure he is going to make alot of decisions the old crew will not like but change is never easy........ PE the majority of the people are behind you!!!!!!!

    January 5, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  19. Aida

    Ms. Feinstein did voice her concerns to BO before he made his choice. His mistake was not informing her of his decision before making it public. After all, she is the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence committee. Another sign that BO does not have total respect for women or the proper political protocol to be president. Ted, John Kerry, talk to your puppet – pull those strings in before he does more damage to the democrats he needs on his side.

    Dianne Feinstein is a smart woman. She should be respected as a senior member of the senate. I am proud to have her represent California.

    January 5, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  20. Marc PDX

    This Democratic administration and Congress is looking sillier every day. As in the Keystone Kops. And just to prove the point to us all, Obama has just nominated Al Franken as the Secretary of Comedy. LOL! Thank you all for making Bush look good!

    January 5, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  21. kayla

    pres. elect. does not have to let you know whom he is selecting. he is the pres. elect. thank you.

    January 5, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  22. robert williams

    To adequately defend and best protect our country from those who would harm us, one would expect those most seasoned and experienced in the intelligence community to be among those from whom a CIA chief is chosen. Though Leon Panetta is an outstanding American, I'm unaware of any such distinctly essential and clearly indispensable experience in his background.

    January 5, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  23. Karen

    The way this is going I cant wait for 2012....then get all the crooks out after you've learned your lesson

    January 5, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  24. Objective thinking

    Those of you insulting Feinstein: How about giving a logical argument against her criticism of the pick? Between a woman saying "The CIA Director should be a person with professional intelligence experience" and someone saying "The person saying this should shut up," whose argument do you think is more convincing and logical?

    And "Democratic voter" who posted at "January 5th, 2009 5:30 pm ET," As the article pointed out, Obama did not call her in the first place. She found about this pick through her aides who found out through the newspaper. If the media is how Obama lets her know about his pick, then the media is she can let Obama know what she thinks about it.

    January 5, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  25. Tom

    Mrs. Frinstein what you think or feel don't really matter Mr Obama is the next president and he nominates who he wants, so when you get to be the president you can then nominate who you want also.

    January 5, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
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