January 5th, 2009
05:13 PM ET
2 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. charles NJ

    it just goes to show the emperor has no clothes... his transition has been less than stellar

    January 5, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  2. Myrna Ulrich

    WHO REALLY CARES WHAT THE OLD BAG THINKS?? HER DAYS IN THE SENATE ARE NUMBERED??? WHO REALLY CARES ABOUT OBAMA'S CHOICES,?? HE IS NOTHING BUT A WEASEL FOR THE CLINTONS.. I CANNOT WAIT TO VOTE HIM OUT OF OFFICE AND NONE TOO SOON ....

    January 5, 2009 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  3. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia in CA

    The HONEYmoon is over...

    January 5, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  4. S Callahan

    Maria has it right....this is drama for distraction.....

    January 5, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  5. tess

    IF THIS WASN'T SO FUNNY THAT THE DEMS CAN'T GET ANY THING RIGHT IT WOULD BE TRULY SERIOUS WITH THE WORLD IN THE SHAPE IT IS!

    January 5, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  6. antonio

    Sen.Feinstein is a Democrat btw...thought some you fools might want to know.

    January 5, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  7. Tim

    Is Bozo in here? I've looked at some of the other rings. Is he in this ring? Am I at the right circus?

    January 5, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  8. Intelligent American

    "Proud American" – How does your comment relate to the article? Oh yeah, IT DOESN'T.

    January 5, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  9. rich

    Lets see, who is going to be the President here? Is it Diane Hillary Feinstein, or Barack Obama. Hmm..lets see..the last time I checked Barack Obama was elected as the next POTUS. It's his call for his intellengence chief, and not Ms. Feinstein. She either supports it or she doesnt. But if she is expecting him to clear his appointments with her before he does, then she needs to check herself. I think her wig is getting too big for her head or too tight. Either way, it's sit sitting well. Get a grip Ms. Feinstein. You are not POTUS in waiting, Barack is.

    January 5, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  10. Alex

    What kind of leverage does the CIA have on Feinstein?!?!

    The intelligence community is waging a fierce publicity battle to retain its insular, unregulated authority, however, a new administration is the best time to purge the CIA of the undemocratic elements that have promoted domestic spying, torture, the fictionalization of national intelligence and other policies designed to oppress and wage aggressive war. I hope Panetta can manage to do some of this... And I hope a good progressive challenger for Feinstein's next Democratic primary battle can be found to unseat one of the most mediocre Senators next to Harry Reid!

    January 5, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  11. antonio

    "My Friends, let me tell you", January 5th, 2009 7:41 pm ET

    "Diane,didnt anyone tell you your days on that committee could be numbered"

    FYI. She was just appointed Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Com. by Harry Reid. Obama has no say in the matter.

    January 5, 2009 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  12. Bell

    Wouldn't it have been more ethical for her to have conversed with the PE about this instead of talking to the press first? I don't see how this will help unite our country's citizens.

    January 5, 2009 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  13. Mel of Alexandria, Virginia

    Sometimes an institution can become ingrown and unable to reform itself. If that is the case bringing in an outsider could be the best way forward. Those of us who do not know the details should remain open-minded and stop pretending as if we know what is best.

    January 5, 2009 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  14. mtrav

    This is a joke, isn't it? Who cares what Feinstein the torturer wants. She should be thrown off the committee altogether.

    "Hey Now January 5th, 2009 5:14 pm ET

    And the Senate would be best served by having term limits to avoid career hacks like Feinstein."

    You're so right.

    January 5, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  15. Larry of Boston

    Hooray for Senator Feinstein. Obama's all inclusive fetish is wearing thin. Somebody needs to teach this TOTALLY INEXPERIENCED JUNIOR SENATOR that you need to appoint qualified people, especially to head the CIA.

    Obama is going make a bunch of giant blunders as he learns the job of President over the next 2-3 years.

    January 5, 2009 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  16. Texas Teacher

    Seems to me that it might have been a good idea to have listened BEFORE talking. :) Not such a good idea to second guess in her position before listening. I don't think Obama needs her approval to make the selection. Just saying...

    January 5, 2009 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  17. Rick Sutter

    Poor choice. Poor judgement. There are only three vital responsibilities of the Federal government. At the top of the list is national defense. This is a very dangerous choice.

    January 5, 2009 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  18. bill for barack

    Poor little girlie got her feelings hurt ?
    Time to go back to the kitchen, honey, and leave governing this nation to the men.

    January 5, 2009 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  19. TCM

    Wow...he has little hands on experience...that's why Obama picked him! Someone that's as inexperienced as he is!~

    January 5, 2009 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  20. Charlie in Maine

    People on both sides of this are missing the point. I respect Senator Feinstein and President Obama. Can't they disagree about something without people attacking either one? Can't they just be on opposite sides of this question? Obama will of course try to convince congress to accept his nominees. The Senator has a responsibility to question.

    The responses on both sides of this blog represent one of the worst legecies of the Bush Administration. Vilifying those who don't agree with you.

    Obama has promised to listen to all points of veiw. So far he has done nothing to hint that he will not. Lets let personal attacks be a thing of the past and focus on what is right instaed of who.

    We have a"grown up" heading to the White House now. Let's follow his example.

    January 5, 2009 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  21. Matthew Gerring

    Yeah, look Diane, we all know how much you like torture porn, but it's time to give it a rest.

    January 5, 2009 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  22. Eugene

    Sure, Feinstein, let's have one of those folks in the CIA, a so-called professional, who condones Bush policies such as water-boarding, Guantanamo, and creates such accurate great intelligence reports on pre-war Iraq. President Obama is right on to get the house organized and not pick someone inside a messed-up house.

    January 5, 2009 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  23. Boston Irish

    Well, Diane, it appears you are in a "Need to Know sITUATION" and apparently, PE Obama didn't think you needed to know. Too bad. Guess you are not as important as you think you are. I just wish you and your cohort, Pelosi, would both see the light and get the H out of Dodge. I know what it's like having you two bozos as senators. I lived most of my life in California and I'm happy to say I NEVER VOTED FOR EITHER OF YOU!!

    January 5, 2009 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  24. TCM

    Reality Check, you really need to do a reality check; you've been reading and absorbing too much liberal propoganda from the the Obama website.....Bush kept your sorry behind safe for 8 yrs...let's see how long before Obama allows us to become a doormat...the terrorists support him not because of his questionable background of Islamic contact, but because he's spineless and they know they can run right over him...Thank God he's retaining Gates and Co., otherwise we might as well start building mosques.

    January 5, 2009 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  25. John G

    I never for a moment thought I would be overly appreciative of any of Obama's picks but exactly what qualifies Panetta to run the CIA?

    January 5, 2009 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
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