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

Feinstein slams Obama CIA head pick

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/05/art.getty.dianne.feinstein.jpg caption="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. Mobius

    Feinstein? Intelligence? FAIL

    Scariest part is that I agree with her. Yikes.

    January 5, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  2. Proud American

    Republicans please don't read something else into this. I can just see you Idiots now.

    January 5, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  3. Soccer Nana

    Feinstein needs to be quiet and LISTEN before she speaks. A sign that PE Obama will not be respected. Pitiful.

    January 5, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  4. canuck

    operation chaos. i love it!

    January 5, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  5. Hey Now

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

    January 5, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  6. Ron - Saint Louis

    Very odd that President Obama didn't speak with the incoming Chairman of the Intelligence Committee. Something seems wrong with this picture as he has been so transparent up to this point that this appointment seems to go against his previous actions.

    January 5, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  7. Dena

    Is she worried that he's Catholic? Really – I have to worry about what's Not being said here.

    January 5, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  8. Bob

    More power to you Dianne !

    I never thought I would ever agree with her on anything.

    January 5, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  9. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Oops. Forget to kiss the right butts Obama?

    January 5, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  10. Kurt C.

    The only idiots are Panetta and Obama for thinking Panetta is up to doing this job.

    January 5, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  11. Tim


    Why do you need someone with intelligence experience to run our intelligence office? We picked someone without well honed political skills or foreign policy skills to run the country.

    January 5, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  12. Larry

    Well Dianne...

    When your the President you can make the choices that you think are the best

    Until then, just do your job

    January 5, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  13. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Proud American, Can you do anything else but call Republicans idiots? Not vetting a choice with the relevant committee chair is an amateur mistake, and won't be Obama's last. It's what you get when you put someone without the right experience in a job that's over his head.

    January 5, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  14. Adreanna

    Yet another politician with "hoof in mouth" disease! Surprising! It is always best to be swift hear and slow to speak. I take it Ms. Feinstein didn't learn that one!

    January 5, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  15. david goldman




    January 5, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  16. Thanks but no thanks Diane

    Is this the same Feinstein, who was hesitant on what torture is and not.

    January 5, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  17. Liz in CA

    Leon Panetta is one of the most intelligence, resourceful, and HONEST people ever to have been a public servant. I welcome his return to public service. There's no one I'd trust more at the helm of CIA. Get over it Feinstein....only reason for you to take this public is you are miffed you didn't get "consulted". The president elect doesn't consult on his picks with congress madam. Get on board or get run over by the train of progress!

    January 5, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  18. Objective thinking

    Proud American–why don't you contribute something intelligent for once, instead of your partisan drivel?

    January 5, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  19. BJ

    FINALLY...something I and my Senator agree on...

    January 5, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  20. sick n tired

    Not a big Feinstein fan myself, But I have to agree with her! (ouch that hurts)!

    January 5, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  21. David

    Mr. Obama has now become so obvious. The puppet marches to the beat. To do this just blew your cover. You are just the posterboy.

    January 5, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  22. Jenny

    Thank God someone in Washington has sense! Of course you hire a person with the actual skills and training and experience to do the job they are hired to do...you want an intelligence leader, you look for someone with that kind of background...not someone from a totally different professional background...like economics.

    What is going on with these ludicrous appointments...oh, I know...Obama must be repaying big contributors to his campaign by putting people in jobs they aren't qualified for...didn't people say that Bush did that? And wasn't all that supposed to change with a new administration? Big change!

    In fact, Obama is making Bush look good.

    January 5, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  23. MAD

    I wish all our politicians would just stop with the knee jerk reactions everytime PE Obama makes a decision. Shut up already and hear the man out.

    January 5, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  24. dr.mimi de la cruz




    January 5, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  25. Eric

    Obama's inexperience is showing already.

    Even Diane Feinstein knows that was a BAD CHOICE. Why don't they just bring back Slick Willy as President seeing how Obama's has picked all his cabinet members from that administration.

    I thought Barry was different than the other lying politicians...his change isn't change.

    January 5, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
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