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. Matt

    @ Tim

    If you think Obama does not have "well honed political skills" then you have NOT been paying attention. Seriously. He obliterated the entire GOP...admittedly with a nice dose of help from the last 8 years of GOP control...but he spun the entire political game in this country on its head and is continuing to do so.

    It's gonna be a long 4 years for some of you people.

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


    January 5, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  3. Californian

    Well...I think california deserves a person of integrity representing them...why isn't Feinstein resigning?

    Californian who HATES Feinstein (what a waste of flesh that lady is!)

    January 5, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  4. Confused

    Vote for change, whats' changing? Same old weary faces.

    January 5, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  5. ED


    January 5, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  6. Sumitra Deb

    Do you really want to listen to this war-monger Feinstein?

    January 5, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  7. thrixdog

    Oh yes, he will be respected, you don't come out of Chicago politics and be weak. He's bidding his time until inaugeration. After that, I'm sure some of these spotting off cngressmen and women will be told behind closed doors, something akin to the metaphor of the "train", you can ride on the train or you can be part of the tracks, either way the train is comimg through.

    January 5, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  8. Sumitra Deb

    I forgot; who is the President-Elect?

    Do you really want to listen to this war-monger???

    January 5, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  9. (Former) Lifelong Republican for Obama, Columbia, TN

    I don't like this pick either and I tend to agree with Feinstein, who I deeply respect. I wish the Obama team would have contacted her first about this pick. Still, I think that if the Obama team picked this man I want to give him the benefit of the doubt and I think Feinstein should too.

    January 5, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  10. Mike, Syracuse NY

    TexAnnie. I bet you've NEVER made any bad comments about Bush right? Things will be coming at Obama faster and faster now. He won't have weeks to think about everything move. He'll have to either react faster, or we all go down. You're starting to see why experience matters. The CIA isn't just another typical political appointee's job. As we saw in Iraq, bad intelligence can cause mistakes. Put an amateur in charge, and you are just asking for trouble.

    January 5, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  11. Melissa B ~ California

    Dianne Feinstein should show a little more respect for our newly elected president and stop her tongue-wagging, before she finds that the Californians who elected her decide that they've had enough of her questionable leadership and badly timed remarks, and end her career as a politician in the Golden State. Maybe she is disappointed she didn't get the job, but when in doubt Dianne–shut your pie hole!

    January 5, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  12. Hookdriver

    Certainly another Clinton Administration veteran will bring new spice to our covert operations, considering their experience in them. Probably bring some pretty nifty fundraising skills, too.

    January 5, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  13. Ron LeGuin

    We have people in this world trying to kill us every day. I am sure the
    "dark" side is excited to know we just appointed a politician to head the CIA! I actually was beginning to feel good about Obama and his
    choices until this blunder. God help us all.

    January 5, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  14. DAB

    Change? Where is the "change?"

    January 5, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  15. DAB

    JOHN WHITE spell "no" correctly.

    January 5, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  16. Van - Bloomington, Ill.

    Matt... it's going to be a LONG 4 years for all of us.

    January 5, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  17. David , MA

    While I also belive Obama should have picked someone with experience in itelligence Its his choice who he picks. Yes it would have been right to inform the itelligence committe chairman of his choice but ultimately Obama makes the final decision for his administration. The Senate will have there day with hearings and will have the ultimate decision as whether to confirm him.

    January 5, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  18. Rob, Ohio

    If people really understood what this position is and what is required for success, they'd be praising Feinstein to high heaven for what she's saying. Putting someone into this top job who is NOT an intelligence professional is going to be a major problem...this is NOT a job for a bureaucrat.

    January 5, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  19. alvino

    No person in this world could ever make Bush look good.

    January 5, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  20. Pam

    Maybe Feinstein should run for president and win. Then she can pick whoever she wants.

    January 5, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  21. John P

    Ms. Feinstein needs to shut up. She pushed Michael Mukasey on us and has the nerve to complain about anything?

    January 5, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  22. the idiot

    California is cursed with two idiotic socialist senators. As someone else on this board said, they present an excellent case for term limits. Because George Soros and ACORN stole the elections for the libs does not make them qualified to sit on the intelligence committee.

    January 5, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  23. Melissa B ~ California

    @dr.mimi de la cruz,
    California already has term limits, so unless Feinstein watches her step now before she runs for a different office in the future, she'll be on the losing end quicker than you can say Eureka!

    January 5, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  24. Maria

    I find these comments amusing – Most posters fail to realize that the Senate must approve the appointments as CIA director – that is why the President can only NOMINATE the candidate. If this appointment does not get the Senate's approval Mr. Panetta will not get the position – It's called "Balance of Power" – it's what our founding father's fought for to prevent any President from having too much power – sorry Obama supporters – he will merely be President, not King.

    January 5, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  25. Gays for Obama

    There's no fool like an old fool.

    January 5, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
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