January 5th, 2009
05:13 PM ET
8 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. MT

    Nothing new here, more like a puppet of the 90's. Who's in charge? Obama or the Clintons?

    January 5, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  2. Sly in Seattle

    I dont see the part where she "slammed" his pick.. looking for controversy, CNN?

    January 5, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  3. Texas Democrat

    I love Diane. She was a great Clinton Superdelegate.

    January 5, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  4. Cheney

    So!Go sit in the corner bleep,I will call you when I need you.

    January 5, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  5. #44 = Affirmative Action

    To barbara campbell:

    Obama is selecting the same fools that brought us Sept 11. This Panetta guy was Clinton's Chief of Staff and largely responsible for the destruction of our intelligence community, which lead to the attacks. Maybe Kennedy wasn't that far off when he called him Osama!

    January 5, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  6. Tom

    Not a fan of the pick. Wake up people, Obama is not king. She does have a say, has to go to a vote. The ignorance of the public is scary!!!

    January 5, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  7. joshua

    someone needs to let the PE know that CIA doesn't stand for
    "Clintons In Again". They did a great job with intel when they were in office (USS Cole, 1st WTC attack, partial 2nd WTC attack, OKC). They did like to go after American citizens though (Waco, Ruby Ridge)... nice pick PE!

    January 5, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  8. Zion

    Democrats kill me. That's one thing I must give Republicans you can't pay them to tear each other down to the media even when they are DEAD WRONG. Leave it to Democrats. People said they wanted changed, okay. As far as 2012, don't worry, President Obama has it in the bag.

    January 5, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  9. arc, Lugano CH

    I support President Elect Obama. I believe he is making the right choices – even those which may seem maybe little puzzling at the outset. Penetta for CIA Director..hmmm.....I am waiting to see how this story develops. I was hoping to see Clark have a role in the new administration.

    On verra...but onward to 1/20/2009!

    January 5, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  10. GiroGeezer, Calif.

    Don't lose any sleep over it Senator Feinstein, we will be voting you out of office in two years. Leon Panetta has forgot more than you will have ever learned.

    January 5, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  11. frank Honolulu HI

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein does not have the bully pulpit. Why she goes about making public statements as if she were the President make me wonder.Are you on the team or in it for yourself?

    January 5, 2009 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  12. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    I guess she felt her toes were stepped on because she didn't get advance notice of the pick......get over it lady, and lets move on.....there is too much to do to get all uptight over a perceived slight.

    January 5, 2009 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  13. People amaze me

    So if the logic people are using here in defense that the person doesn't need experience then why was people upset at the FEMA director after Katrina. I mean cmon why would people get upset about his experience running dog shows.

    January 5, 2009 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  14. Ken in NC

    Feinstein is resisting change already. Obama wants to make changes they do not want. Now Democrats will agree with changes he makes that they want, especially if it involves a Republican but Obama is attempting to make the changes he feels are needed. I suspect PE Obama's worst enemies are going to be his own Democrats. Well Feinstein was not informed in the manner to which she is accustomed. Get over it Feinstein. It is change. Obama is the incoming President and he is trying to put in place the team he needs to work. If you disagree that is fine. Run for the office and should you win then you appoint the people you want into positions and as President you will not have to call others to tell them you are going to do something. I think they will find out when they read it. Get over it Senator Feinstein and move on.

    January 5, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  15. a new year

    who cares what this woman thinks,she oviously doesn't keep up with whats going on or she would have been better informed.

    January 5, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  16. C.T.

    You are so right on the mark,, Mark. That's why boy george screwed the pooch with intelligence on Iraq, he tried to make his own. Talk about inexperience.

    January 5, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |


    January 5, 2009 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  18. Terrible and scary choice---

    if any of you have read the 9/11 report, you know that we need a very intelligent "intelligence" person running the CIA. There's no room for mediocrity in dealing with the type of terrorists that took part in 9/11.

    January 5, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  19. Rod B.

    So, Diane, run for president, get elected, and name your own CIA Director.

    January 5, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  20. Proud American

    Mike, Syracuse NY = Oh I understand you mean like when we put Republicans in those positions and they couldn't do the job? Oh thanks for educating me. Dear God what would I have done if you didn't tell me. Idiot.

    January 5, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  21. Allan

    Who is the Republican writing all these inaccurate and misleading headlines at CNN.com today?


    Franken "Claims" Victory?

    Seriously, dudes, you lost. Give up.

    January 5, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  22. w.l. jones

    Many years near the center of power but no experience on the new job. The more knowledge a person attain the sooner they learnt he or she don ,t know as much as they thought about the complexity of our intel..agancy.

    January 5, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  23. Proud American

    Mike, Syracuse NY = Oh your the boys in the hood and medal detector racist Idiot. Should have known your a Idiot and can't tell me anything or anyone else.

    January 5, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  24. Yvonne

    People Amaze Me, folks were upset that the FEMA director had no experience because he DID A HORRIBLE JOB after Katrina!

    It would not have mattered if he were competent.

    January 5, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  25. Proud American

    Republicans please take a deep breathe, stand back and relax. Your time has come and gone, face it you blew it. COULDN'T GET THE JOB DONE. Why don't you do the world a favor go back to sleep for about 16 years, but please shut the hell up.

    January 5, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
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