Director of The Central Intelligence Agency - Previous Directors - Leon Panetta 2009–2011

Leon Panetta 2009–2011

On January 5, 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Leon Panetta for the position of the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. After his nomination, journalists, politicians, and media agencies—such as The Economist—raised concerns about his lack of intelligence agency experience. Time magazine commented that "ore than a few eyebrows went up when word broke".

The Economist also speculated that Obama had selected Panetta because he needed a CIA director "untainted" by the Bush Administration's policies on torture and its handling of the Iraq War. David Ignatius said that advisers to Mr. Obama have told him that Panetta was chosen to provide political defense for the CIA:

"Panetta is a Washington heavyweight with the political clout to protect the Agency and help it rebuild after a traumatic eight years under George Bush, when it became a kind of national pincushion."

Ignatius further explains that Panetta does have tangential exposure to intelligence operations as director of the OMB and as the Chief of Staff for President Clinton, where he

"sat in on the daily intelligence briefings as Chief of Staff, and he reviewed the nation's most secret intelligence-collection and covert-action programs in his previous post as director of the Office of Management and Budget."

The former Director of Central Intelligence, R. James Woolsey, Jr., is a supporter of Mr. Panetta, whom he has compared favorably with the Kennedy-era CIA leader John McCone. He described Panetta as "a very able individual with a successful career".

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