Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Fight with Dianne Feinstein

There is much conventional wisdom being tossed around today about the comments or anger of Senator Dianne Feinstein not being consulted about the choice of Leon Panetta to head the CIA by Obama.

There are those who state not informing her was political poison, but maybe Obama did not want to inform her because it would have been leaked out and shot down before Obama could compose a press release. Maybe not forming her was intentional.

Feinstein, along with Senator Jay Rockefeller are now out in the open criticizing this choice, which gives the Republicans ammunition to criticize Obama for choosing Panetta instead of someone inside the agency.

My take, Barack Obama want a complete cut from the Bush Administration by this choice. Remember Dianne Feinstein and Jay Rockefeller was lock step with the Bush Administration with regards to intelligence. They definitely were not in the front rows at protesting against the use of torture.

Obama is sending an unequivocal message that controversial administration policies approving harsh interrogations, waterboarding and extraordinary renditions _ the secret transfer of prisoners to other governments with a history of torture _ and warrantless wiretapping are over, said several officials.

On the record, Feinstein has stated she would prefer Steve Kappes, this is fine and good but the decision is for Barack Obama. This from Glen Greenwald:
Few things could reflect better on Panetta's selection than the fact that Feinstein and Rockefeller -- two of the most Bush-enabling Senators -- are unhappy with it.

Bush enabling senators. Yes, that sums it up about Feinstein and Rockefeller. They have been in LOCK STEP with Bush; there is no denial about that. That is their record on intelligence.

But John Aravosis has another take on this matter:
First, a word about Difi, Rockefeller and Panetta.

1. Difi drives us nuts, and anyone who reads the blog knows it. She's the Dem we're always having to beat up in order to get her to do the right thing (though Max Baucus comes a close second). So, I readily acknowledge your, my, first impulse to be "who cares what Difi says?" The problem is that America cares. To us, Diane Feinstein is a pain in the butt. To my mother - aka Middle America - she's a smart person, who is an expert on the issue, who has a D after her name, and who thinks the guy may not be qualified. She also has power and can screw with Obama mightily, now and in the future. Our dislike for Difi is irrelevant to this equation.

2. Then there's Rockefeller. Totally worthless human being and an absolute joke as the outgoing Intelligence chair. But to America at large, he's the outgoing chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and a Democrat. What he says matters to ma and pa in the sticks, even if the rest of us think he's a joke. And when he questions Obama's nominee in such a critical area, it matters to the public at large.

3. Panetta. Interesting choice. Opposed torture, not wedded to the national security special interests. I acknowledge all of that, and applaud it. But because he's an unusual choice, even an unconventional one, I'd argue that you need to handle this nomination very carefully, so as to avoid any possible hiccups (Democrats per se need to tread carefully in the area of national security because we've spent so many years letting Republicans pummel us with it).

This is another reality. Folks from the left are angered to high heaven and have been for some time with Feinstein and Rockefeller, but most of America knows these two as competent, able, centrist, okay, Democrats. In this matter, I disagree.

The bottom line, we must stand with Barack Obama on this appointment. Obama campaigned on the atrocities of Gitmo and the illegal use of the intelligence community, especially with Iraq. This needs to be cleaned up. There would not be an Iraq War today had the intelligence not been tampered with to back the reason for invading Iraq. That is what happened, that is the truth, which is why it is time for sweepers at the CIA.


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