January 7th, 2009
05:02 PM ET

Insider or Outsider for CIA Director?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President-elect Obama and his staff defended Obama's pick for CIA director yesterday. Word of the nomination apparently leaked before the transition team notified senior senators.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chair, Dianne Feinstein said she learned about it from the New York Times and made it very clear she was not happy about not being notified. Incoming Vice President Joe Biden called the lack of notification a mistake and today Feinstein said she plans to support Panetta's nomination.

But it's not just how it happened that's a problem. Leon Panetta is an outsider. Critics are quick to point out that he has no intelligence experience.

Obama was on damage control apologizing for not letting Feinstein know in advance. He said Panetta will change the practices at the CIA that have tarnished the agency. He also pointed out Panetta had to evaluate intelligence daily during his 2 years in the White House during the Clinton Administration.

Whether to pick someone from within the agency or an outsider for the post is not a new dilemma for an incoming President.

Many past CIA directors have risen through the ranks within the agency– but President Kennedy picked an outsider for the job, without spelling the end of the CIA.

Here’s my question to you: Should the director of the CIA come from within the agency or be installed from outside?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Larry writes:
This is the time to have an outsider come in and clean house. Otherwise the code of silence will cover up those who supported torture and rendition. Besides, the intelligence professionals didn't cover themselves with glory under the Bush administration. Time for a change.

Jack writes:
Hasn't history taught us anything? Not another appointee from the Clinton era. Our intelligence agencies were neglected and ineffective then and will become impotent again.

John from Fort Collins, Colorado writes:
Leon Panetta has strong high level administration skills, and has experience dealing with intelligence reports on the presidential receiving end. Although he is an agency outsider, I think it would be tough to find an overall better qualified person for the job. The Obama transition team likely "forgot" to consult with Senator Feinstein on his appointment, figuring it was better to ask for forgiveness than for permission.

James writes:
We do not have the luxury of a new DCIA in need of training wheels. It will be the Porter Goss disaster all over again. Does the Obama administration consider anyone with experience as somehow tainted?

Judy from Exeter, California writes:
I like the idea of an outsider who can shake things up. So what if Feinstein got her ego in a knot. She's one of the incumbents that needs to be thrown out on her ear. As a California Democrat, I have voted against her in every election, and I will continue to do so.

Sam from Fairview, Texas writes:
We have to look at all this errant intelligence gathering that got us into a war in Iraq and Afghanistan to understand how beneficial an outsider just might be. We can not afford another intelligence mistake of that magnitude.

Terry from North Carolina writes:
I have some candidates for this position. These guys are great at covert operations. Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards and how about Bill Clinton?

Filed under: CIA • Leon Panetta
soundoff (287 Responses)
  1. Dennis West Carrollton, Ohio

    How about outside. By the way, did the FBI ever find their laptop computers and their handguns that they lost a few years ago. I can't help but wander what the CIA lost. I suppose that the CIA now knows where the Chinese embasy in Iraq is by now. It wouldn't be a good idea for them to blow it up again.

    January 7, 2009 at 1:35 pm |
  2. Bill Davis

    It seems to me that more damage has been done to our nation economically than militarily or through an act of terrorism. Considering that Leon Panetta has a background in economics and has a history of being a good manager and problem solver, his selection seems reasonable. If you're approaching the problems of this century with a brute-force mindset, you're likely to be under-equipped.

    Bill D.
    Champaign, IL

    January 7, 2009 at 1:36 pm |
  3. Larry

    This is the time to have an outsider come in and clean house. Otherwise the code of silence will cover up those who supported torture and rendition. Besides, the intell professionals didn't cover themselves with glory under the Bush administration. Time for a change.

    January 7, 2009 at 1:37 pm |
  4. JD in NH

    From all reports, outsiders are more successful than insiders. In any case, the criteria should focus on intelligence (as in brain power), high ethical and moral standards and the willingness to carry out the wishes of the president.

    January 7, 2009 at 1:40 pm |
  5. Gary - Woodhaven, Michigan

    There is equal argument in either case, the person who is best at leading people should be the choice.

    January 7, 2009 at 1:40 pm |
  6. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    If you want to change the "culture" of the organization, the Director has to come from the outside. Obama made a good move on this point.

    January 7, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  7. Paul

    It should not matter if the CIA Director is from within or from outside the agency. Credentials should matter. They usually don't, but they should.

    January 7, 2009 at 1:42 pm |
  8. Veronica in Virginia

    Outside Jack, I'd like for all of the CIA who worked for Chenny out!

    January 7, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  9. Paul Round Rock, Texas

    Jack although the person should have a background with intelligence knowledge it should be an outsider to insure things are all properly done.

    January 7, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
  10. Rick Medina,OH


    I think we need a great 'manager,' regardless of where he or she comes from. We need someone who can assess personnel needs (and skill requirements,) ensure that field intelligence is directed to the right analysts, and ensure that analyst conclusions are promptly directed to decision makers. We also need someone who can take a 'strategic' view of agency processes, and ensure that continuous improvement occurs 'across the board.' It is my guess that there are plenty of folks who can make solid 'tactical' choices. The Director must be a 'strategic' thinker; I don't think it matters where they find him or her.

    Rick S., Medina, OH

    January 7, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
  11. Jenna Wade

    Should the director of the CIA come from within the agency or be installed from outside?

    If you get an outsider the troops will be slow to follow.

    If you get an insider the troops will behave the same as before.

    Since Obama is all about change then I would hope that we get an outsider and Obama puts pressure on getting the troops in line asap.

    But hey, that is just me.

    Roseville CA

    January 7, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
  12. AndyZag Lynn, MA

    Keeping in the tradition of "Checks and Balances" I vote for a candidate outside of the agency. As in the real world, inbreeding does have its costs!

    January 7, 2009 at 1:46 pm |
  13. Marie Ontario

    Given there are documented cases of torture and the unlawful detention of innocent people for years without them being allowed a fair trial.

    Since the CIA was instrumental along with the Bush administration in putting the U.S. in the same category as many of the Middle East Countries who still practice torture and deny human rights and violate the Geneva Convention.

    The whole world is well aware of the latter and it has ruined America's reputation for at least the next generation so it is good the new Director will come from the outside. He will hopefully clean up this cesspool for the sake of America's next generation.

    January 7, 2009 at 1:47 pm |
  14. David of Alexandria VA

    It does not matter - what does matter is that the person be well-experienced in intelligence and foreign affairs. I don;t see Leon as either of those. There are some presidential appointments which matter a lot and some which can be allocated to political payback and cronyism.

    CIA is one of those which really matter - our very safety and lives depend on it. I hate to see CIA fall into the hands of someone who is simply a good administrator who might work out through some OJT.. Of course, I'm sure that al Qaida has already sent him a congratulatory note, cc: Barack Obama.

    January 7, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  15. Harold from Anchorage,AK

    Probably an insider,but the most important traits to look for are:
    competence, and the integrity to NOT be a "yes man" and allow politicians to cherry-pick the intelligence product for their private agendas.
    War is too serious a matter to be the plaything of fools.

    January 7, 2009 at 1:51 pm |
  16. Jackie in Dallas

    I think it is a GOOD thing that an outsider has been put forth as the Administrative officer of the CIA. Leon Panetta has a good record of service and integrity, plus a good sense of adminstering an agency. That leadership is what is needed, not an insider who is carving out their own little fiefdom like J. Edgar Hoover did with the FBI. And in this case, an outsider is not tainted with the current "attittude" that anything goes as long as it gets results. That lack of moral integrity and ethics is why this country has lost the respect of countries around the world. Yes, there are some sensitive intelligence issues, but that is what bureau chiefs, and project leads are for, not the overall administration of the agency!

    January 7, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  17. dennis north carolina

    After eight years of bush, two wars, and 9/11, we could use a new face. the cia has had problems in the past so they could use a new face to put them on the right rode.

    January 7, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  18. Joe in DE

    there have been a lot of insiders and poor results. There is only one recent Director that could be considered an outsider and his performance was medoicre.

    It is a very difficult position and requires someone with common sense & integrity – qualities absent in most goverment appointees. Panetta is different – not apparent wether this is good or bad.

    January 7, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  19. don in naples, florida

    you know it really doesn't matter. Just so long as the incoming cia director can gather information that is accurate and useful, and provide that info to the according agencies in a swift and timely manner.

    January 7, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  20. Allan G. Hanson Placerville, Ca.

    An insider would be buisiness as usual. It takes an outsider to make changes and changes are needed.

    January 7, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  21. Jackson from Tennessee

    Hello Jack. Maybe a fresh face without all the Bush baggage would do the CIA some good.

    January 7, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  22. Jack Gillespie

    Hasn't history taught us anything. Not another appointee from the Clinton era. Our intelligence agencies were neglected and ineffective then and will become impotent again.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  23. Tom, Avon, Me, The Heart of Democracy

    We are not privy to the scuttlebutt that Obama is getting on the CIA. I trust his judgment, but I hope he makes sure that every agent who blew the whistle on Bush/Cheney anti-American activities and crimes is brought back from the hinterland, or early retirement and restored to their previous positions. The agents who threw away their careers in honoring their oath to uphold the Constitution, should be recognized as the patriots they are.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  24. Tony from Torrington

    Depends on how you view the terrorist threat. A police action? Leon. World wide threat of terror attacks on our country? A little more experience would be nice.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:02 pm |
  25. Judy, Exeter, Calif,

    I like the idea of an outsider who can shake things up. So what if Feinstein got her ego in a knot. She's one of the incumbents that needs to be thrown out on her ear. As a California democrat, I have voted against her in every election, and I will continue to do so.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:04 pm |
  26. Bizz, Quarryville, Pennsylvania

    An outsider like Leon Panetta I think is a good choice. He is a man that can organize and operate the CIA properly. He is also a man that will not leave any one cherry pick the CIA intelligence for their own personal policies. As was the case when Dick Cheney had the CIA present evidence for an invasion of Iraq knowing full well that it was flawed.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:04 pm |
  27. Lois Canada

    There seems to be a good argument for and against..... I would at least hope he has some experience Playing my favorite board game "Clue"!

    January 7, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  28. Richard Sternagel

    The Director of the CIA should come from the outside. For too long the CIA has been acting like a Third Government accountable to No One. Hopefully, under Leon Panetta's direction the CIA will return to its main purpose in providing credible intelligence on our enemies instead of spying on the American citizenry.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  29. Conor in Chicago

    An outsider is beneficial to Obama. An insider holds his allegiance to the CIA as presidents change and the aims of the CIA are often at odds with an administration. With Obama appointing someone from outside the community his appointment is more likely to at least try to keep the actions of the CIA in line with what Obama wants.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  30. Sam Fairview, Texas

    We have to look at all this errant intelligence gathering that got us into a war in Iraq and Afghanistan to understand how beneficial an outsider just might be.
    We can not afford another intelligence mistake of that magnitude. It costs lives and billions of dollars as well as hatred for Americans among the rest of the world.
    We have enough natural enemies without the help of bad intelligence creating any more.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:07 pm |
  31. Stacy from Leesburg, VA

    I think the most qualified individual for the position should be installed, regardless of them being on the inside or outside. Some of the most qualified people don’t work in Langley, but work as independent contractors or as consultants and understand the intelligence community as well as the nuances of leadership in Washington.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:12 pm |
  32. Rod from Allentown PA

    I say the outside. They can't do worse than what has been done in the past with this agency. As a matter of fact, we could probably gather 20 people off of the street and have them draw straws and end up with some hope.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  33. Karen - Missouri

    Well, since we aren't experts on intelligence offices, I would assume the President-elect would know more about what's needed than we do.

    The CIA has been lousy...someone inside would just cover up any wrongdoing anyway...so why not someone new?

    January 7, 2009 at 2:18 pm |
  34. A Bob White

    From the outside, jack; definately! Yes, there is a learning curve involved. But any intelligent person who is motivated to do the job for the 'common benefit' can succeed. Such is so very much better choice than to continue the common practice and belief that incumbancy is needed or necessary. The more, different persons and values, when correctly motivated, best serves the common interests. A frequent turnover of the elites, leaders and polity is a very good thing.

    Hays, Kansas

    January 7, 2009 at 2:18 pm |
  35. Steve of Hohenwald TN.

    Outside. We need to get away from the good o`l boy inside mentality.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  36. Erico mb33139

    In light of what is happening with Government agencies, such as the SEC, it really doesn't matter where the next director comes from. Those bureocracies are too overloaded with fat. They need to be trimmed down to a level where the Director has a clear view of what is really happening. In the mean time we'll have to do with what is chosen. If this new CIA Director doesn't live up to expectations, Obama will just appoint another one.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  37. Lee in TN

    we need some fresh blood in the government. Maybe,,just maybe,
    this guy will tell the president exactly what he needs to know and not what the gentleman thinks he would like to know.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:24 pm |
  38. Rose in Az

    No question, CIA director should come from the inside. Panetta is a serious mistake, he knows nothing about Intelligence. This is a very important position. I think the American people deserve to have someone that knows what is and what has been going on, this is not a postion for a trainee.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:24 pm |
  39. Richard, Syracuse, NY

    the head of the CIA needs to be a Manager more than a spy. That is why I believe the appointment is a good one. This agency needs to start fresh to regain its lusture that was lost thanks to all the problems of late.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:29 pm |
  40. Kiran B Mandava, Atlanta, GA

    The CIA director should come from within the agency because the person within agency knows every single thing about the agency. It is good not only for agency and as well as country too.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:30 pm |
  41. Larry from Georgetown, Texas

    Many big companies put in CEO's from the outside to shake things up and history shows that they do just that and the company goes backwards and to me the CIA is a big company. So a good insider that has a vision could do wonders but probably has too many friends to make the necessary changes to reduce waste. I'd love to have the opportunity to evaluate the waste in our Government agencies and save billions of dollars.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:30 pm |
  42. Kyle- DuPont, WA

    Putting Mr. Panetta in charge of the CIA would be like putting a bull in charge of a china shop. Someone who does not understand the intricate workings of intelligence organizations and the delicate relationships that must be maintained in order to meet the intelligence requirments of the National Command Authority could never succeed at the helm. Mr. Panetta's appointment has the potential to set us back 20 years. This is the first time I have begun to doubt the wisdom of the Obama Transition Team.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:30 pm |
  43. John, Fort Collins, CO

    Leon Panetta has strong high level administration skills, and has experience dealing with intelligence reports on the presidential receiving end. Although he is an agency outsider, I think it would be tough to find an overall better qualified person for the job. The Obama transition team likely "forgot" to consult with Senator Feinstein on his appointment, figuring it was better to ask for forgiveness than for permission.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:32 pm |
  44. S, Michigan

    From the inside for sure!!! That's common sense- would you make a Fireman with no loaw enforcement background the Chief of Police? Sure they both serve the public but there are some things you need to know of the inner workings; the head of CIA needs to know what it takes to be a CIA agent and what they do day in and day out. Panetta is the worst (or only bad one) of Obama's appointments so far.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:33 pm |
  45. Jeff in Glen Carbon IL

    Having an insider there is almost as scary as if we had a general runing the Defense Department, however, in today's world, it may benefit us to have someone technically up-to-date and knows the grunt level inside out. They spend an INCREDIBLE amount of money on research. Best spent by someone who knows where it goes. Also, if we had a second term President it might be different, but here, we are "training" someone and perhaps best not to have an intermediary between the truth and the "decider." That didn't work last time.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:33 pm |
  46. Esther M. Akron Ohio

    i like it better when people are promoted within rather than bringing someone from the outside

    January 7, 2009 at 2:34 pm |
  47. Jer

    Hi Jack,

    Back again. Everyone should take their egos off and let this appointment be confirmed. Maybe some outside perspectives will improve the intell.


    January 7, 2009 at 2:36 pm |
  48. Denis Duffy

    Someone who cares about America should be installed. Get rid of everyone who cares more about their retirement than protecting us.
    Out with the old, in with the new. Like that will ever happen.

    Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:38 pm |
  49. JR in Norfolk VA

    Either way is acceptable, so long as it's not some political hack and spinmeister from a previous administration. Huh? What's that? Oh, well, never mind.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:38 pm |
  50. Nancy, Richmond, Indiana


    January 7, 2009 at 2:43 pm |
  51. Brian from Irvine, California

    Insiders haven't been doing such a terrific job of fixing the agencie's problems, so perhaps it's time for an outsider to bring fresh ideas to the table. Leon Pannetta is as good an outsider as any.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:43 pm |
  52. Fred R Deleon

    Jack, Mr Panett may be a fine person. But I always had and still have the impression that to be Head of CIA should be given to a person from within the Agency for such person's background and familiar with CIA not only standars but demands can accomplish his or her mission. Furthermore, the service term should be at least 8 years.
    No new CIA Director can catch up (excuse the lingo) with the problems CIA will be facing very soon plus the one already is working on. We need another Edgar Hoover(FBI) for head of CIA. CIA Director should be a NON partisan job.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:47 pm |
  53. Roy Munroe

    It shouldn't matter as long as they understand the process and have the ability to manage while maintaining credibility, trust worthyness, integrity and adhere to the "Constitution" and "Bill of Rights" for ALL Americans.


    Olympia, Wa

    January 7, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  54. Mike out West

    Outside! We have seen the bang-up job the intelligence community has done so far. That being said, the director should have some background in this field, and no "Clinton Administration" anything on their C.V. We have enough of those in the "change" administration already.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:50 pm |
  55. Dave of Oregon

    The CIA is so badly compromised that an honest man(if you can find one in D.C.) should be ascertained. Bush so badly ruined the credibility of the CIA and other intelligence organizations that a new start is required. Remember, he and Cheney cherry-picked their intelligence usually through Doug Feith at the Department of Defense. Even if the CIA hadn't been compromised by these actions, their actions have like the current situation in Illinois been tainted. An outsider with an impeccible resume should be considered and Leon Panetta is a good choice. Hopefully, Obama will not continence scandal like Bush did, if it really is true that his administration had 50 running scandals!

    January 7, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  56. ken jefferson city mo

    Jack, outside for sure when you're inside you don't realize everything because your in that bubble but when your outside looking in you see thr good things and bad things and also you will bring new ideas in that will change things for the better.

    January 7, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  57. John

    Jack: It should be an outsider, because we are spending to much for the intelligence information we are recieveing. I hope our human intelligence gathering is increased, so we do not make the same mistakes made in Iraq.


    January 7, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  58. Gerard Canta N.Arlington NJ

    An outsider should finally review the CIA. Vast amounts of money have been wasted there for years. I suspect that there are so many rogue agents making small fortunes that it isn't funny.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  59. colin

    We about to have a President who is way over is head. And a CIA director who would be way over is head. But thats OK he is another Clinton boy. So where is the change?

    January 7, 2009 at 3:01 pm |
  60. Terry from North Carolina

    I have some canidates for this position. These guys are great at covert operations. Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards and how about Bill Clinton.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:03 pm |
  61. Jane (Minnesota)

    When a long standing problem needs to be fixed – someone from the outside is more apt to get it fixed than someone from within.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
  62. Mickie

    If he comes from inside the agency there is always the chance he could have either mixed loyalties or too much history with others there. I would have to believe that if the Pres. Elect wishes to appoint someone from outside, that he would have confidence that the person he picked would listen to those with experience as well as use his own military background knowledge. First Obama is criticized for selecting those too experienced with Clinton and now it's someone with no background. Some will never be happy and the poor guy has not even taken office yet. I wish there would have been such outcries over the past 8 years to Bush and Cheney's picks (i.e., Brownie).

    January 7, 2009 at 3:05 pm |
  63. Cori from Colorado

    It should be someone who has the qualifications and experience to do the job, whether it's in our out.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:09 pm |
  64. Mike, Long Island New York

    I say yes. The CIA must be run with level headed people who know what they are doing because this is the CIA, they are not allowed to make mistaskes

    January 7, 2009 at 3:10 pm |
  65. Mike, Syracuse NY

    If you had to have surgery, would you want a doctor to do the operation, or someone who had been a 'consumer of medical services' for a long time?

    January 7, 2009 at 3:10 pm |
  66. David Richards

    I want someone not tainted by the crime of torture which pretty much disqualifies everyone in the intelligence community. Dianne Feinstein can carp all she wants, but she wasn't consulted because her hands are bloody too. Barack Obama is sending a message that intelligence will be gathered by LEGAL means during his Administration.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:11 pm |
  67. Linda in Bisbee, AZ

    Outside to avoid the cover-up and continuation of illegal acts.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:12 pm |
  68. Brad

    The new CIA should come from outside to have new ideas, and a better plan to protect this county.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:15 pm |
  69. Pat,Lexington, Ky.

    Outside. The CIA's reputation has suffered in the past few years and bringing in Panetta will give it the fresh start it needs.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:16 pm |
  70. odessa

    an outsider who knows their intelligence smarts well people smarts..we had experience cias in the past and caused nothing but headache..i hope that panetta gets the job..don't forget, senator feinstein as well other senators voted the spy bill and look what happened?..panetta would be a fine candidate..

    January 7, 2009 at 3:16 pm |
  71. Alan, Buxton Maine

    The answer to that lies in the total dysfunction that agency has demonstrated in the recent past. No one who has been involved in the Bush method of reporting intelligence should be in charge of anything. I applaud Obama's selection.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:16 pm |
  72. Kevin, Chester Springs, PA

    Post 9/11, the CIA needs a director with not only strong intelligence credentials but a high level of moral authority and dedication to the rule of law where torture is simply an unacceptable policy and behavior for the United States government. And on another note, I am quite frankly tired of Clinton administration retreads. Obama should've been a bit more creative for this pick. With that said, I sincerely hope Panetta, if confirmed, surprises me and does a great job. We need it.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:17 pm |
  73. Jim/NC

    The Director of the CIA should come from an individual within the organization. Appointing Panetta is similiar to appointing Jack Cafferty and Wolf Blitzer to oversee, direct, and manage military operations...know very little about it and a lot to learn in a very short period of time. Obama was doing very well until the appointment of Panetta...very bad choice for the security of our nation. Remember, Panetta was Chief of Staff during the Clinton administation. Bin Laden planned the 911 attack during the Clinton/Panetta watch.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:18 pm |
  74. Jerry from Jacksonville

    Outside, we need someone who is a manager and not afraid of firing those who screw up. He doesn't have to be a super snoop, just someone that knows how to organize and manage people.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:18 pm |
  75. Dave in MO

    I say make George W. Bush the director of the CIA. He has manged to keep this country safe since 9/11. That makes him the best possible person for the job.!

    January 7, 2009 at 3:23 pm |
  76. Geri

    The one thing about government Jack is that the wheels turn regardless of who is appointed to head any of the agencies. An insider would probably be preferable to the CIA but to the country as a whole? It's a crapshoot.

    Geri – Mead, Ok

    January 7, 2009 at 3:24 pm |

    An outsider, if otherwise credible, always brings more accountability. They need leadership and direction, not another field agent.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:25 pm |
  78. Mike - Hot Springs, Arkansas

    I think that it is a good idea to get some fresh insight into that organization. It would be nice to have someone not tied to the past investigate the CIA mess. I only hope that those in charge will cooperate. The attitude over there will be hard to penetrate but perhaps Panetta has enough contacts that he can find a way through the maze. We definitely needed someone with guts to try.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:26 pm |
  79. Pat,Clearwater Florida

    Absolutely, organization is important. Torturing is not and will
    not be condoned!!!!!!!!

    January 7, 2009 at 3:26 pm |
  80. Susan from Greenfield, Wi.

    The outside, because insiders haven't proved to be very effective as history will point out. The bottom line is this. We cannot get into the operations of Muslim extremists, which means that we will never know what they are planning next. We have to re-think our whole approach.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:31 pm |
  81. Kim, Dodge City, Kansas

    An outsider is only going to get fed a lot of false information and as soon as something goes wrong, he or she will be offered up as a human sacrifice to be whipped like a rented mule by the media. Spook types don't trust folks that ain't one of them and are not inclined to let them into their club, for obvious reasons. The spy business is about trust, and everyone knows you can't trust a politician.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  82. Linda in Geneva, FL

    Only an insider is going to be able to make wise decisions on the correct mix of approaches such as E-lint, Sig-int and Hum-int. Anyone else is going to be swayed by office politics instead. And only someone with real intell experience is going to be able to deal with all the overlap between the CIA and the approximately 9 other intell agencies we have.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:39 pm |
  83. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Installing an outsider as director of the CIA allows a better view on operations installed by any previous or the outgoing administration that need to be continued or discontinued. Installing an insider as director is going to justify no changes needed.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:41 pm |
  84. Alex in Seattle

    It shouldn't matter as long as the person brings executive talent and experience to the position. As a former White house consumer of intelligence he has a good understanding of what is needed. He can leave the details of collection to the agents and technicians at the lower levels of the Agency. Mr. Panetta certainly has a more impressive resume' than the horse show guy Bush chose to run FEMA.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  85. Warren, Minden, Ontario

    When a company needs a drastic change in venue, an independant outsider with considerable expertise is hired to clean house and effectuate responsibe governance. The CIA director for several administrations has been an in-house successor that has proven to be disasterous. There are a multitude of options and highly qualified individuals from the populace to select from that would fill this position efficiently and effectively.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  86. Nick Obrenovich; Cutler, WI


    You don't necessarily need an experienced spy to head the CIA, just
    a good administrator. All he needs to do is know who and what the people do at their jobs, how effective are they? and whether or not they
    are placed jobs to be most effective.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  87. L.M.,Arizona

    According to Bush the intelligent community all insiders gave him the wrong intell even though he gave them several medals so I say that's one part of the government that needs some outside help. Panetta is a great pick because he has worked with you know who before and there shouldn't be a big conflict. between the state department and the intelligence community.


    January 7, 2009 at 3:43 pm |
  88. Ryan, Galesburg IL

    The way that Bush has stacked every inch of our government with partisan cronies and government officials who happen to hate govenment, the message is: Change is Good.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  89. Paul S. Columbia, SC

    Qualifications be damned. Sleep with one eye open America. Cronyism is alive and well and living in DC.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  90. Vinnie Vino


    Dose it really matter what we think, they don't need our votes anymore so they do what they want...

    C.I., New York

    January 7, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  91. garrick

    hi jack
    Bush and Cheney let the CIA go wild and now its time for change and the old chiefs are scared of change and they know they will be tossed aside to wait trial for their wrong doings,and they will get whats coming to them like the people they torchered.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:46 pm |
  92. Liz in CA

    It's no longer "inside or outside" that counts at CIA after 8 years of a mess under Bush's Directors. It's the inate intelligence and integrity of the new Director that will make a difference. Those qualities Mr. Leon Panetta has in spades. I'm thrilled he's been named to the job. I would trust this man with my life! (which is just what I an doing by supporting him as CIA Director). Great appointment Mr. President Elect!

    January 7, 2009 at 3:47 pm |
  93. Jim


    Panetta is a man of proven ability. The fact that he is an "outside" can only help given the Bush-inspired horrors currently staining the CIA. One of Panetta's first goals will be to remove those stains and help the CIA polish up its act. Only a talented outsider could accomplish that.

    Reno, Nevada

    January 7, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  94. Gerry

    The CIA has been a disaster and the only way it goes through the change it needs is to have a fresh look from an outsider who has no ties to anyone in the organization.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  95. Karl from SF, CA

    The CIA has become too political to take anyone from inside to lead it. Palletti is a good choice. He has experience with intelligence and will get the organization that has been ignored for eight years back into the service.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  96. Ron from SF

    We’ve had insiders since George Tenet and Osama Bin Forgotten is still out there. The CIA has gone down roads, that I never thought would be associated with America, No, I want someone like Norm Pinetta, who will reward risk, but will put an end to the disgusting and ineffective practices that stain all of us. He’s an excellent manager and that’s what we need now. Obama promised to change things and the CIA , like the rest of the Federal government, must be changed. Feinstein would never dare tell Bush who to appoint, yet she goes where she shouldn’t go with Obama. Reid should take her off Intelligence, NOW!

    January 7, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  97. Billy G in Las Vegas

    inside OR outside, Obama better damn well appoint someone for CIA director that has the experience to run the agency because IF he doesn't AND we end up with another 9-11 or WORSE, that will be the END of his administration.

    personally I think that means someone that will do ANYTHING to keep us safe even if he or she is an American version of Laventry Beria.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  98. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    I trust the judgment used in this nomination.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  99. Jan Millsboro Delaware

    Leon Panetta is a great professional and would be an asset to this administration..........but NOT as the head of the CIA. I agree with Se. Feinstein and others. With the Russia starting to act out again, and China growing to be a major player, plus Al Quada having a stonghold on every continent, we need someone who knows intelligence inside out. This is not an appointment to make a mistake on. It could be too costly.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  100. Thom Richer

    Come on, Jack. It isn't going to make a bit of difference where the director comes from or who it is. Why make much ado about nothing just to fill air time? Don't you think it is time to cover "news" and not make the media into a soap opera with "hosts" rather than reporters or journalists? Cover the news, CNN, not hype.

    Negaunee, MI

    January 7, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  101. Mark from Yuba City

    Leon Panetta is a decent man with a history of Public Service to the nation. But he's the wrong man for the CIA. He should tell the president as much and head back to California. There are many good folks within the intelligence community who can run the CIA. The current Chief really should be retained.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  102. Meg Ulmes

    As many problems as the CIA has had in the last few years, I think that some new blood would be good. Our whole intelligence system needs a thorough house cleaning and updating. A new broom can at least start to get the job done. If an insider gets the job, probably no change will happen.

    Troy, Ohio

    January 7, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  103. Richard Green


    Obama's choice is a shrewd one. Panetta is not connected to any of the torture policies of the Bush administration. Panetta has been a clear and vigorous critic of the use of torture by this administration. Panetta has demonstrated that he can stay above a political maelstrom and continue to do his job well. He will not be manipulated by any residual politicization inside the Agency. He also is no stranger to the world of intelligence and terror, having attended the daily intelligence briefings while working with Clinton...whose administration, by the way, successfully prosecuted terrorists and left a thorough, accurate, and up to date intelligence assessment for the incoming Bush administration.

    Rich Green
    San Clemente

    January 7, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  104. Tom Tx

    I don't know that it matters so long as the choice has integrity and stands apart from Bush's illegal and/or heavy-handed policies.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  105. Alicia From Fairfield California

    Hi Jack, a first time commentor and I enjoy the CaffetyFile. If no one on the inside can be trusted then by all means hire from the outside. Obama ran on change and it is obvious by his pick that the CIA need some major changes so I applaud his pick in Leon Panetta.

    January 7, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  106. Tom

    It seems the position would require a lot of experience in the agency, then again, the current ways have not worked well in a long time.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  107. Harry

    The last thing that is needed in our intelligence agencies is for someone from within to lead, under the current system.
    All those Washington agencies are far too territorial and do not play well with others. The assistant directors of those "intelligence" agencies should rotate positions periodically. After a full rotation, then an opportunity for being the director should be considered from "within. Think about it.... the Director of CIA, with a background with the FBI and vice versa.


    January 7, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  108. Christine-Baltimore, MD

    The US' intelligence needs a clean perspective. Someone from inside would just recycle the disfunction.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  109. Paul H from Los Angeles, CA

    I think the director of the CIA should come from the inside. I understand all this talk about "change" when it comes to the economy, when it comes to the way that government works, and so on. But we shouldn't just hop on the Change Express for everything. We should keep things the same if they're already working; if it ain't broke, don't fix it. In my opinion, our intelligence has been outstanding. We haven't had one attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. I'd say the CIA is doing a pretty good job, don't you? And I'd like to keep it that way, so how about somebody from the inside? We don't need to shake things up here and risk them getting worse.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  110. Annie Kraft Naples FL

    Outsider. Remember Porter Goss a big failure...Bob Graham another failture. We need someone with brains and superb organizational skills who is not military minded nor associated with the good old boys in the CIA. Remember Tenet...another insider...Go Leon you are a great choice.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  111. gary saari

    President G.W. Bush and his associates say that the CIA messed up on their inteligence work regarding the Iraq war, but Bush gave George Tenent, the head of the CIA, a medal of freedom for his competency. That was the same as saying "good job Brownie" after the hurricane Katrina debacle. The CIA and the NSA get a lot of taxpayer money that they are not accountable for very often. These secretive agencies have been run like the mafia too long. It's time for accountability. Let an outside person take over. Let congress get involved in the accountability. Just maybe "we the people" could get the true story out of at least a couple of those politicians and hold the bad ones accountable through our "so called" Democratic process.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  112. Silas, Cameron, NC

    I think the outsider would be good. Everyone wants change, lets put someone thats not into the CIAs "normal protocol" and get someone to clean house in that section of government. We need outsiders in all aspects of the government-just not Sarah Palin.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  113. Peggy in Iowa

    Definitely Inside!

    January 7, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  114. joe m

    only in washington and in politics would it make sense to offer a job to someone who has no practical experience... i would not ask a dentist to treat a brain tumor, despite the fact that they work around a person's head. panetta may be a great manager, but is that really enough for him to lead the unique culture of the CIA? oh well...

    January 7, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  115. gary saari

    President G.W. Bush and his associates say that the CIA messed up on their intelligence work regarding the Iraq war, but Bush gave George Tenent, the head of the CIA, a medal of freedom for his competency. That was the same as saying "good job Brownie" after the hurricane Katrina debacle. The CIA and the NSA get a lot of taxpayer money that they are not accountable for very often. These secretive agencies have been run like the mafia too long. It's time for accountability. Let an outside person take over. Let congress get involved in the accountability. Just maybe "we the people" could get the true story out of at least a couple of those politicians and hold the bad ones accountable through our "so called" Democratic process.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  116. sage of Maryland

    Well, if you want to bring change to that organization, you need a savvy outsider. The insiders will begrudgingly show you respect if you are self confident, but not cocky and if you show some interest in their ideas. But the guy at the top should be strong, poised, organized and confident and the subordinates will follow along.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  117. Bruce, Georgia

    It doesn't matter as long as he rejects the Bush/Cheney/Ruumsfeld way of ignoring the facts and cooking the intelligence. Also as long as he is smart enough to acknowledge that the enhanced interrogation techniques don't work!
    I'm sure the vast majority of our dedeicated public servants in the CIA will greatly appreciate dignity being restored to their workplace.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  118. Wally Ruehmann las vegas nv

    outside for sure, maybe a Joe the plumber type, he seems to be a jack of all trades. iam not sure what he's the best at, some people it takes longer to find there nitch, but his haircut's got C.I.A. written all over it, it's a start.....

    January 7, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  119. Jim


    The intelligence function is a highly complex one and the head of the CIA should know the political nuances as well as operations. That can only come from a seasoned pro who has been in the ranks. In view of Bush's torture and other amoral policies, it is even more important that someone from the ranks be interfacing with Obama. Since the head of the CIA reports to the president, he or she should not be tainted by the past.

    Longview, TX

    January 7, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  120. Karen - Nashville

    Depends who will do the best job. An insider may be more familiar with procedures, but an outsider would have a fresh view of things and wouldn't owe any favors.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  121. Sue -Idaho

    Jack, I think coming from the outside is sometimes a good thing, I mean who knows what the spooks are doing except the spooks, pick one of them and nobody knows! I'd say Panetta is well qualified, it's not like he's going to be going out on assigment.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  122. Tony in Michigan

    Either, the best person for the job at the time should be picked. What we need is someone who has the USA's, not the CIA's, best interest at heart.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  123. Gigi

    Whether in or out lets hope he has more experience than the one who hired him.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  124. hugh ~ tracy, california

    Not being a part of that secret organization is just what is needed to remove the taint of the misguided "Bush Doctrine", including the holding of enemy combatant prisoners indefinitely at Quantamino Bay, which Leon Panetta strongly denounced. Being the former White House Chief of Staff under President Clinton and being a part of the the bipartisan Iraq Study Group in 2006 indicates someone outside the agency can assure the people of more transparency in the new administration. This outsider has quite a bit of inside information about the Iraq War and makes Panetta is an intelligent choice to head the CIA, which we well know is about as covert a department as one could be.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  125. Scott, Wichtia

    I challenge you to name a large company who'se Board of Directors/CEO/Chairman has risen through the ranks of that company to take the reins, Jack.

    Why would you want someone who knows how the company works to run it?

    January 7, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  126. Greg, Hamilton Ontario

    From a practicle point of view I would say inside promotions should be the way to go. They serve the country so party loyalty shouldn't be a factor.
    What's more important is when did your president start reporting to Dianne Feinstein? I wouldn't have apologized and in fact I think it was a sign of weakness for him to do so. She can find out like everyone else and if she doesn't like it ...well she can go get her nails done or something.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  127. Ralph Nelson

    Outside with a good #2 from inside. I would prefer Leon Panetta as Commerce Secretary and William Cone (R) at CIA. Ralph, Yakima, Wa.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  128. Robert David STEELE Vivas

    It would really be great if CNN covered the DNI and DCI appointments with some substantive understanding. I served in the CIA, in three of the four directorates, and have written books on this subject, any of which David Ensor would be happy to lend you–or let me know and I can send them over. In the meantime, I have posted a two-page Op-Ed and a 16 page White Paper that might give you some perspective. CIA is 80% myth, and the 20% that is substance provide "at best" 4% of what a President needs to know. Most previosu directors of CIA have been political short-timers–Dulles, Helms and Colby have been the best insiders, Casey and Webster the best politicals. Tenet was a staffer, not even a political, and a place holder who allowed CIA to go further into the toilet. Learn more at http://www.oss.net/HILL, see the last three items: Op-Ed, White Paper, and brutal critique of GLOBAL TRENDS 2025.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  129. Jeff Crocket

    There are many inside and outside the CIA with intelligence expertise!
    Panetta isn't one of them. He is just another Clinton transplant showing, one more time, the lack of Change that Obama is tracking down!!

    January 7, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  130. Diane G.

    I think Panetta is a great pick. Look at the experts Bush had in those positions and we are in the middle of a doomed war?
    What about George H. Bush – he didn't have intelligence experience when he was head of CIA.
    Obama stated that he doesn't want 'yes' men around him and wants these people to question his actions.
    Diane Ghil from Huntsville, AL

    January 7, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  131. D - Atlanta, GA

    An outsider may be just what the agency needs at this point. Thanks to the current administration, our worldwide credibility is ruined. Let us not forget that former President George H.W. Bush headed the agency with no intelligence experience.

    I believe that because of DiFi (Feinstein) and Rocky's (Rockefeller) previous rubber stamping (or at least looking away) of the Bush policies, President-Elect Obama was forced to do an end run around them to make his nomination.

    Panetta is qualified and has a great reputation......just what is needed to clean house.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  132. Ken in NC

    Jack, one who is trained as an inside liar is better equipped to provide more real time truthful sounding lies than an outside liar. Just look at how convincing the CIA was to GWB on Iraq.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:19 pm |

    If you are talking about Panetta, I think he will be better than an insider. He knows what is going on as he sat in on meetings in Clinton's admin. Jack, you are starting to sound like the Republicans, picking Obama's appointments apart before he's even in office. Give him eight years like Bush has had. Quit grunting and enjoy getting the do nothings out of office.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  134. Brittnay in Palm Beach

    If the CIA wasn't tarnished then it would make perfect sense to hire from within but if you have a flawed system you bring in an outsider who can look at it with fresh eyes much like Obama. The country cried out for a fresh start and begged for change when they elected Obama so why should we be shocked when it happens?

    January 7, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  135. Joyce in Florida

    It doesn't matter. The incoming director should be a good administrator since that's the job. Being out in the field gathering intelligence is the job of people who are proficient in that area. Sometimes not being nailed down to how 'things have always been done' is a plus.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  136. Marjorie Lominy

    If I had any say in the matter I would just dismantle the damn thing....they are of no use anyway....How do you recover from 8 years of bad policies and decisions...were it in the private sector, they would be liquidating office furniture and supplies right now

    January 7, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  137. Carlos from So. Calif.

    Jack, I would say the question is not necessarily should a new CIA director come from within or outside the agency, but do they have previous "intelligence" experience to handle this very important position. I have great respect for Leon Panetta, but I question if the CIA would be a good home for him.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  138. Christopher Williams Bennett

    Intelligence is not only based on the degree of aptitude a person possesses, but what it is he or she is able to do with such knowledge. Any half of a whole is measured by how that half compliments or challenges the bond that holds their consistency! Most lessons learned do come from better halves places both in and outside these "Indivisible" and at times invisible settings! Most Italian, Asian, European, and other regional people have a better sensibility, toleration, and patience for any given problematic era! As the sum of you are simply looking for mistakes in grammar and vocabulary you are forgetting the first five letters of my name! Blessings for The CNN team Mr. Cafferty, Mr. Blitzer, Mr. J. King, and Kitty Pilgrim!

    January 7, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  139. David,San Bernardino,CA.

    I think Panetta is a fine choice. With all the messes and mistakes made by CIA insiders over the years we need someone who is not an insider and will actually work for us and bring change to the CIA good ole boys network

    January 7, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  140. Sandi AZ

    From the past intelligence we have had from the previous Administration, I think most of them should be cleaned out and start afresh! Since when does a Senator have the right to question a Presidents decision on such a delicate matter? Feinstein should have called the President Elect instead of going public with her questions, then there would not have been any hassle. Where are peoples good ole common sense??

    January 7, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  141. Natalia, Albuquerque, NM

    Definitely from the outside. Look at the damage the Bush appointed insiders have done. As the Senate Intelligence Committee Chair, Sen. Feinstein did nothing but sit on her hands for eight years and let Pres. Bush ruin our country's reputation in the world. She agreed to all the Bush policies and allowed them to move forward without objection and oversight. Sen. Feinstein needs to take a pill and relax. Leon Panetta is exactly who we need and will do a great job to restore our reputation in the world!

    January 7, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  142. Mary from Houston, tx

    Without intelligence experience, who's qualified to answer your question?

    January 7, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  143. Jay in Texas

    The most important thing in picking a new director of the CIA should not be whether or not he/she is an "insider or outsider" but should be that the nominee understands that following the U.S. Constitution is of vital importance and that he/she is both willing and able to follow the law of the land.
    Brownwood, Texas

    January 7, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  144. Danni

    It dosent really matter where they come from, bottom line is they will still be puppets.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  145. Daniel, Indiana

    Outside this time around. There has been too much secrecy in politics and it is time to allow the American public to feel like they are getting a little more information. That will be a ruse, but it will feel better.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  146. j/NJ

    Should the director of the CIA come from within the agency or be installed from outside?...

    Outside govt? it really doesn't matter one individual does not formulate institutional policy...the fact that Panetta does not have on the job intelligence experience does not mean he cannot function as a competent CIA director...also the reason many in the law enforcement community oppose his appointment is because Panetta is an avowed advocate of humanitarian procedures and policies...

    January 7, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  147. Katiec Pekin, IL

    An outsider should definitely be appointed. The workings of our intelligence agencies are broke and will continue as usual with
    somone within the ranks.
    There was a promise of unification when Homeland Security was
    initiated yet there is absolutely no difference. The agencies do not
    work together, there are too many bosses and not enough

    January 7, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  148. Tripp Mechanicsburg, PA

    What should it matter where he comes from as long as he is the best suited for the job. I'd rather have a fresh face run the CIA than someone with thirty years of experience providing the sort of "intelligence" that let 9/11 happen and lead to our invading Iraq because it had WMDs.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  149. Les Oklahoma

    Panneta is a lot more experience than given credit after he was chief of Staff in the Clinton Administration. As far as Feinstein she is such a expert she let under her watch setting on the intelligence committee let George Bush bunch use wire tapping and help pass the wonder Patriot act and torcher prisoners. Her duties as a committee member was to see that these type things didn't happen.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  150. Brian from Fort Mill, SC

    Isn't this the same argument we had when electing Barack Obama? It's not about experience, it's about judgment.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  151. Doug - Dallas, TX

    Feinstein should have been informed of the choice but the CIA needs a strong manager to get it back on the right track and Panetta is perfect for that. Look at their screw ups over the last 10 years when it was run by spy guys. With the right management maybe the intel coming out of the agency will be worth something.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  152. bill, PA

    The insiders failed.
    We need an outsider.
    The president was told of the coming 9-11 attack. Even when told what was coming the "intelligence-community" failed to protect us.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  153. Mary Helen, Bloomington IL

    Given his credentials why not? What a bunch of whiners he has to deal with; surely there is a least one person in the CIA versed in tracking chatter. Panetta will bring much needed management and organization to this out of control agency MHH Bloomington IL

    January 7, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  154. Lynn, Boise, ID

    I like they way they are doing it. Obama has chosen an "outsider" with mangerial experience who is very familiar with the inner workings, yet not so familiar that his position into a covert op. Then, to back him up, there will be a long time insider who has field experience and thoroughly knows the system, but may lack a little in managerial skills. Seems brilliant to me.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  155. shawn, pgh, pa


    We need someone from the outside. People in the inside have made alot of mistakes. We need a fresh start. Bush the father was from outside and did a good job. No one has managed the CIA and they have been running wild. New sheriff in town

    January 7, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  156. lynnej from lattimore, nc

    I think it is good for an outsider at this point because the Bush Administration has destroyed every agency it has touched or ignored. Remember FEMA anyone?

    Besides Mr. Panetta and all of whom are picked to be on the President Elect's staff are several steps up from where we've been for the past eight years in competentcy. So why complain about this guy?

    January 7, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  157. Sherri I

    Feinstein has since STATED that Panetta would make a fine CIA Director after her feelings were smoothed by phone calls from Obama & Panetta. America doesn't need a CIA Insider after the pass 8 years under the Bush Administration. No more "its a slam duck Mr.President" YES men!.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  158. Karen - AZ

    Panetta will "clean up" the image of our CIA and that is what is need to greatly improve our world image!!!!

    January 7, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  159. Nate from Columbus Georgia

    When corruption and lies are rampant, why would you want a person from the inside to resolve the problem? wouldn't he or she have friends and colleages who's heads would have to go onto the choppin' blocks? Wouldn't he or she have to explain why they didn't come forward before? Isn't that why we voted for Pres.-Elect Obama? We want new blood, fresh ideas, less corruption, and Real-Honest answers and solutions. That type of thinking would suggest that 'Dick Chenney' is the solution for the screw-ups of George W Bush!

    January 7, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  160. Darren

    Eight straight years of insiders bungling intelligence should anoser that question pretty well.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:46 pm |
  161. dave walker,n. dartmouth,ma.

    Tough to say. We need someone who isn't politically strangled,but yet knowledgable enough of the intrcasies of the CIA and its' vital function.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:47 pm |
  162. Will from San Jose

    Picking an outsider gives the CIA more of an appearance of a fresh start. That's important for an organization right now associated with secret prisons and torture.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:48 pm |
  163. Jenny from Nanuet, New York

    Obama's choice of Leon Panetta as CIA Director sends a powerful message to the "old guard" that the days of torture and "enhanced interrogation" are over and to the entire world that America, as a country to be admired, is back.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:48 pm |
  164. Jerry from Monroe Co., WV

    A pair of fresh eyes and direction from a constitutional scholar (Obama) might be just what the CIA needs to better understand our position in the world and how to proceed.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:53 pm |
  165. Jenny from Nanuet, New York

    If Obama wanted to continue Bush's policy of torture, he should've chosen someone from the inside. An outsider is exactly what this country needs. Obama's choice of Panetta is a clear sign that change, for the better, is coming to America. We will finally be all that we USED to stand for.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:54 pm |
  166. Michael R. New Orleans LA

    Panetta is no Tenet! Pannetta was White House Chief of Staff during the Clinton Administration, which is fine but things have change in the Intelligence Community since Pannetta handled the day to day operations of the White House. The agency needs someone either from the Military, with the current CIA director or appoint some of these assistant directors who have been waiting to fix the problems they endure at the CIA on a daily basis. The Intelligence Community does not need anyone who needs on the job training, we have had this for the last eight years. Democrats always wondered why they are always being blamed for being weak on terriorism, this is why. A man that should not have been considered for the job, is more than likely will get the job. This is a sad day for American intelligence!

    January 7, 2009 at 4:57 pm |
  167. Mari Fernandez, Salt Lake City, Utah

    Outsider seems to be the better choice. The CIA needs to be cleaned up, and somehow refocused.

    They missed 9/11, they stood by and allowed the LIES over WMDs in Iraq by Bush. The CIA needs someone who will straighten them up!

    January 7, 2009 at 5:04 pm |
  168. Buster in Poughkeepsie, NY

    Hey Jack, such a complex, burdensome decision requires an apt analogy. Would you want Wolf Blitzer working on your plumbing? He might be a great administrator to mete out news, weather and sports, but he wouldn't know squat about clogged pipes and leaky faucets. If Wolf plumbed your house, you would probably get burned in the shower when somebody flushed the toilet. Like him or not, leave the piping to Joe the Plumber.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  169. david doherty

    Jack I think going outside the agency is the right thing to do, lets face it, the agency isn't awash with people that haven't been tarnished by the bush regime. I think Obama said something about change!

    January 7, 2009 at 5:06 pm |
  170. kermit WI

    Our Pres.-e Obama is shaking out the rugs, changing the curtains, and painting a new fresh look onto the face of America.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  171. Roy - Chicago IL

    As long as whoever is picked can be vetted successfully I DON'T CARE!! Insider or outsider there actually are people who can do a good job at this post. The prevailing mentality, even from CNN, seems to be whoever is picked for ANY Obama position has to be questioned and requestioned as to whether they are appropriate.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:08 pm |
  172. Griff

    Dictator??? Why do CNN live in a Cucoon? Israel has protected America... Every info you needed came from Israel first.... Now you elected a Muslim Black.... All of sudden Israel is your Enemy.... No! You are the Enemy. History after 2009 will tell the Story...

    January 7, 2009 at 5:10 pm |
  173. vern-t anaheim,ca

    outside the agency,the present people in charge have not very effective ,someone who will clean up this agency and restore it to being effective

    January 7, 2009 at 5:10 pm |
  174. TB Pittaburgh Pa

    Let's see ... this is one heck of a "Team" Obama has put together.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  175. Kyle from Kentucky

    I think in regular times and circumstances it would be better to have an insider, but these are not regular times or circumstances. The CIA is knee deep in the torture struggle, there have been mistakes involving both wars, most noticeable the failure to give adequate information regarding Iraq and WMD's. So I think that we do need an outsider to come in and clean this mess up.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  176. Blake

    They should be picked from the outside. On the other hand palin was an outsider but things turned out for the worst in there case.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  177. Pete

    It should be up to the President. Period

    January 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  178. Ed

    Outside of course. We had an insider at the helm and we still weren't protected from 9/11. A good, orderly, house cleaning is in order.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  179. Rory Murray

    We need new blood in all levels of government. The powers that be are too incompetent and/or greedy!
    Happy New Year Jack!
    Rory Murray
    San Bernardino, CA

    January 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  180. Deb in Lancaster, PA

    Outsider, definitely. An independent manager who wants results and has no axes to grind or favors to pay back. Someone who will answer only to Obama. Someone who is seasoned and knows his way around Washington and therefore can get things done.
    And someone who isn't afraid to feather-ruffle. This guy is the one who will see to it that the Intell folks do what the President wants them to do...like tell him the truth and COMMUNICATE among themselves! He doesn't have to do the intelligence himself, he just has to manage those folks who must.
    Panetta=Perfect. Go get 'em, Leon!

    January 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  181. James

    We do not have the luxury of a new DCIA in need of training wheels. It will be the Porter Goss disaster all over again. Does the Obama administration consider anyone with experience as somehow tainted?

    – James

    January 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  182. Joan Shaw

    Think the only way to refresh that agency is with someone fresh and
    not part of business as usual.


    January 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  183. Photoboy

    An outsider of course. How can you expect an insider to be objective? If he was, he would have been fired by now.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  184. Linda B

    Definitely outside the CIA! And for those of us who have observed Panetta's career (he's from my area) over the years, I can assure you there is no one better for this job. He has the integrity and believe it or not, the sense of humor, to take on the mess at the CIA.

    Santa Cruz, CA

    January 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  185. Jocelyn in San Carlos, CA

    I think it was a no-win for Obama. We see the criticism of hiring an outsider, but if he had picked someone from inside the CIA, he would have been criticized for choosing someone who is "part of the problem." Presumably Panetta would be better than George Tenet – he who dropped the ball on pre-9/11 intelligence and went on to win the Medal of Freedom!

    January 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  186. Bruce

    Be installed from the ourside. The culture is corrupt, and the Bush-planted NeoCONS must be replaced as soon as possible. Same with all the alphabet agencies; The NeoCONs must be evicted from all their strategic powerful positions. Usually the Securities Exchange and CIA lead positions are swapped back and forth to form a good old boys club; This is refreshing.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  187. Danny

    They need to have someone within the intelligence community. Any federal agent will tell you that it is crucial to keep the nation safe. Panetta was a great Chief of Staff, he is a better adviser in a political manner.

    Sure, there is torture used and such, but sometimes it is necessary to keep the nation safe.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  188. Charlotte

    We're in the most delicate and difficult economic era of our time since the Great Depression. There has just been a terrorist attack in India. The Israelis are fighting Hamas terrorists. With all of the anti-American sentiment out there, why wouldn't Obama want someone with the most experience in intelligence to serve at the helm of the CIA? I think Panetta could be great in any other post that is not so sensitive to our national security.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  189. TB Pittaburgh Pa

    Hmmmmm Cheney was an outsider when the RNC promoted him... how did that work out for us ???

    January 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  190. Joe Palen

    I think Obama was right. As I understand, the CIA has become so bureacratic as to be ineffective. We need a top manager from the outside there at this time to reorganize it.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  191. Stephen Merrill, WI

    An outsider for sure. That will make the old timers accountable and bring a fresh view and accountability to intelligence operations. There are so many "black" ops going on that a cool head neads to have a impartial view.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  192. Louis Duquette

    Dosen't really matter who runs the CIA, it won't be long before this country is flat broke or everyone is in the unemployment line.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  193. Kyle Turner

    WHO CARES if they come from the inside or the outside? Maybe if more companies out there were willing to hire from the outside and get new ideas and new opinions we wouldn't be stuck in this financial crisis with some of the world's largest companies asking for bail out money. I believe Obama is doing the right thing finding someone from the outside that is not jaded and corrupt.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  194. RICH from Tennessee

    Perhaps it is time to think outside the box–it hasn't worked well with insiders–give it a try

    January 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  195. Pat S


    When the CIA has spent at least the last 8 years, if not more, rendering people to other countries to be tortured, and torturing them themselves, staining all of us and betraying everything it means to be American, OF COURSE we need an outsider to purge the CIA of this mindset.

    The CIA has historically had trouble dealing with the fact that they have to answer to the President and the American people for their behavior.

    It's time they start answering, and Barack Obama and Leon Panetta may just have the ability to make them.

    Let us all hope they do.

    Pat S.
    Mahopac, NY

    January 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  196. Melissa Pilchard

    The CIA has gotten a very bad reputation and desperately NEEDS an outsider to go in and have a good look. It does NOT need one of the 'Good old boys" from inside the group. A new broom and sweep clean, or so we may all hope.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  197. Bill, Virginia Beach

    The existing leadership within the CIA will not like the idea of an outsider like Panetta coming in the run the Agency because he will be seen as a threat to the status quo. Some will dig in thier heels and try to make it difficult fo him. Others will try to do things to subvert or sabotage him. There are yet others who are highly capable who are hoping for change and improvements but who will keep quite in order to keep from potentially sabotaging their own careers.

    Panetta should try to make some bold and dramatic steps to make the entrenched interests remember who they work for. This will probably mean firing some of them and replacing them with new people who are either existing CIA employees or perhaps some other outsiders.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  198. Bob

    We all hear moral at the CIA is bad. It needs change and that means at the top. Panetta is a great choice and has the skills to make changes that will make a difference for the good of the agency.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  199. Kofi

    Why should we care whether Leon Paneta is from within the intelligence community or not? The main thing here is that he is being put there to reform an organization with a tarnished image. Come on now and draw out the useless guillotines with no heads to chop off. This discussion is just a useless one diverting attention away from the real issues.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  200. Mr Dean n Seattle

    It should be up to the president to decide who is qualified for the job,

    January 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  201. Peter

    Outside ! The inside people that got you into this mess are not the ones that usually fix the problem. You're a lunatic if you keep doing the same old same old and expect a different result.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  202. Jandy -- Plantation, Florida

    Considering what has happened over the past eight years, under the guidance of people picked by the lame duck, maybe an outsider is exactly what is needed.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  203. M.Love

    I think, in political terms, Panetta is an insider, But in terms of the CIA, he is definitely outside of that culture, which is a good thing. Every organization has a culture and if you want to change that culture, you need to put someone in charge who is not part of the culture you're trying to reform, especially if that culture condoned torture, rendition and illegal wire-taping.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  204. Judy

    I don't think it really matters as long as the agency is overhauled. We need someone who can create an agency that we trust. We need truthful intelligience everytime, not some of the time.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  205. Linda

    I'm sure Mr. Panetta, an inexperienced outsider, can do a much better job running the CIA than the past inside, experienced heads, i.e. weapons of mass destruction, Gitmo, and the list goes on.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  206. peter camacho

    while kennedy's choice want the end of the CIA it was a dissaster for the country. in this point in time security is of serious concerne, an insider is probably a better choice.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  207. ann lindley

    Why would anyone consider a new leader from inside when the old one has made such a mess. Outside! Outside! Outside! Give the agency back some respect with Panetta!

    January 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  208. bo davis

    Just finished Legacy of Ashes by Tim Weiner which is a horrifying acount of the CIA spending billions and costing thousands of lives and failing to accomplish anything of value most all the time (think 9/11). If Panetta has management skills and integrity and has not been tainted by any past association with the CIA, he sounds perfect. Good luck to us all.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  209. Richard Turk, Jr. Alexis 9

    It really doesn't matter now that thee Anti Christ candidate has become your nations president elect. No one he appoints is going to have a say that'll be recorded by historians as they soon won't exist to serve his interests.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  210. Chris Pappademas

    Personally I think in the same respect that Obama is the "new face" in Washington, the new CIA director should come from the outside. The positive notes in going this way would be to limit the amount of intelligence that could be kept out of main focus of the new administration. The cons would included greater influential pressure on the new admin.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  211. Dee

    Definitely an outsider. Panetta is a necessary choice because of his intense opposition to torture, warrantless wiretapping and other illegal practices currently in use within the CIA – at the direction of the Bush administration. Obama is sending a strong message that things are going to change at the CIA. This is why Feinstein was so upset – she and other democrats were complicit with these illegal practices that the Bush Administration used so forcefully.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  212. John Woronec

    Why not an insider and an outsider. We could ask Bush to do it. He seems to be an intelligent expert. Remember WMD's.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  213. Judith Montgomery

    There are so many more urgent problems, that the fact that Panetta is not an insider is not the point. Sometimes someone with an objective point of view can take a better look

    January 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  214. Tamara


    President-Elect Obama promised change. The people have spoken. Change has come. If the critics like being stuck on stupid, fine let them, they'll get over.

    San Anton, TX

    January 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  215. Bert in New Brunswick

    As a general rule of thumb inbreeding is not conducive to upgrading the gene pool.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  216. Carole, Flowery Branch, Ga.

    Well Jack, the "insiders" didn't seem to do to well in recent years, so I say try a different tactic. Leon was the "CUSTOMER" of the CIA breifings during the Clinton admin. and many times the customer is in a better position to judge what they need and want. Leon is a great manager and I think he's just what's needed to set the CIA on a better track..

    January 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  217. Ike

    It is a great idea to bring an outsider into the CIA. Given the violations of the CIA, many yet to be disclosed, their lack of credible intelligence, their obvious support breaking international law; someone is needed to flush out the villians, restore respectability to the agency and create an environment of trust the American people and the President can find faith in once again. The GOP will fight this because they want anyone to know of the 'dirty little secrets' fostered by the Bush Administration.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  218. George C. Pospisil

    Jack. Definitely someone outside the Agency, like Panetta, should be appointed Director. The Agency is to powerful and sensitive in executing national policy to do otherwise. How about the 'rogue' CIA agents still implicated in the JFK assassination? They were operating as a government outside a government much as Hezbollah operates outside the Lebanese government. The risks are too great. Put someone in as Director who represents the 'rest' of the citizenry. George

    January 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  219. ken

    I was at Ford when Bunkie Knutsen came on board and began to clean house and shape of the organization. Then guess what? The powers to be didn't like the changes and he was out. I wonder if that won't be the same story for whoever heads CIA.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  220. Noel Sivertson

    Based on my many years in engineeering I have come to beleive that experience in a field does not equate to managerial skills. Some of my best deparmtent managers had no engineering experience but had people skills and knew how to run a department. Some of the worst managers I worked for were engineers who could work LaPlace Transforms in thier heads but were terrible managers.

    Leon Pinetta was picked for his managerial skills and that's what's needed to run an agency. Hiring from within will only ensure the status quo.

    Hillary never worked at teh State Department, so why no flaps about her inexperience in state matters?

    January 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  221. Rita Pollock

    The CIA Director should be an outsider. An outsider would have a fresh perspective and not be beholden to those on the inside who are vying for power and advantage.

    However, it will be tough and will need strong support from the President as too often outsiders are resented by the inside crowd.

    A strong and perceptive, leader can make a powerful difference in routing out the incest within the organization.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  222. G Germain

    Freedom of speech for sure. But surely, the decision on this is one that is meant to be made by those who know what they're doing.
    Dear Jack....bought your book.....but after you trashed Hillary, I never opened the cover. Then I felt extremely awful for you and your daughters when you lost your wife....but, I often wonder about you.
    Sometimes I wish you'd run for office and then see how you'd take it if someone like you, in the media...was constantly trashing your every word and move.
    I'd love to see your reactions.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  223. quicktimekirk

    It's the C.I.A.
    Obama should announce his appointment but not tell anyone just who it is.
    Leon (oops) is an honest man. It's the best thing the C.I.A could have at this time.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  224. Orlando

    The Central Intelligence Agency can use some new intelligence from the outside. I think after the past screwups of the CIA from "WMDs" in Iraq to the "Bay of Pigs" of Cuba to the outright support of military dictatorships in Latin America over the past 50 years, it is clear that some new outside blood in the CIA may help. Obama's election signaled a need for CHANGE, which includes a change in leadership and vision in the Agency from top to bottom.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  225. Armando Baralt

    Career bureaucrat agents have a myopic view of their agency's role, function and capabilities. We have a fantastic opportunity for implementing "out with the old and in with the new". In keeping with this spirit Mr. Obama has wisely chosen an outsider to head this beleaguered agency.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  226. Manny Pereira

    I believe that at this time, it is in the best interest of the CIA and the The Obama team to bring someone from outside the CIA. It would be difficult to find someone within the CIA that has worked under the George Bush Regime that would be credible and untainted. We have just had the darkest eight years in U.S. History that I am aware of. Further, it will be one more black day in history when Mr Bush walks out of office and is not charged with numerous crimes ranging from crimes against humanity, purgery, and many other charges that I am not aware of.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  227. Norman Hoffman

    Inside outside, Jack it really doesn't matter. The CIA staff needs to get the message: there's a new President in town, and you folks need to do your jobs the right way, or take the highway.

    Marietta, Ga

    January 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  228. Mike T (Maryland)

    President Elect Obama should be the first president to be forced to utilize the existing cabinet members for the first six months before he appoints any replacements. Mr. Panetta is incompetent for the position of CIA Director just as Mr. Obama is barely qualified to be a US Senator. Although voted in, Obama is not qualified to be president and his picks for the new cabinet speak volumns about his inability to adequately lead and manage the most powerful nation in the world.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  229. Debbie Williams

    Jack I agree 100% with Obama that this appointment should come from outside the agency. If anyone working there disagrees they should be thankful they still have a job after the intelligence they gathered when investigating WMD's in Iraq. I think they all should have been fired and replaced at that time.

    Debbie, Franklin Furnace, OH

    January 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  230. M in LA

    I see the course the president elect was trying to take and think it's commendable to use someone outside of the agency – especially with what has happened over the past 8 years. I do believe, however, he should choose someone who has more than 2 year's exposure to intelligence experience. Someone like... COLIN POWELL.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  231. Karol

    Outsider. He owes no one in the agency any favors and can be objective.
    Panetta is a good manager and that is what is needed – a thorough look at the agency from the top down.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  232. Shawn Bernardini

    Having served in the US Military for 14 years, I know the government bureaucracy is alive and well, however, having the ability to know what you don't know about the specific interworkings of the CIA gives you a fresh set of eyes uncorrupted by the inherent bureaucracy specific to the CIA. That is a positive but Pinetta's success will be much greater if he has a strong and trusted advisor or assistant who knows how to navigate within the CIA.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  233. Jotie

    I believe that if a director should be selected, it should be from the inside the agency. Considering the current turmoils we are in, it is not a feasible decision to pick someone from outside the agency, who may have little to no experience in this field. We do not need someone who needs an on site training, we need someone who knows what is going already in the agency to implement what we as Americans want for our safety and security.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  234. John

    No. In fact, it's probably better to have someone who isn't on the inside. If the CIA experts are the professionals everyone makes them out to be, then they don't need a "head spook". They need someone to drive the bus–straight.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  235. Will Schmidt

    Hello Jack: I like your comments on many of the issues covered by CNN.
    As far as CIA director "inside or outside".
    You stated that President JFK picked his CIA director from outside the status Quo(ranks of cia); well look what happened to him, heaven forbid!

    January 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  236. Isaac Walker

    Why is experience and the added competency that comes from a distinguished record of accomplishment in any organization considered a negative when the need for such is at an extreme - as is currently the situation at CIA. Porter Goss nearly completely ruined the Agency when he substituted his conservative politcal views for knowlegeable personnel selections, resulting in great loss of talented personnel who did not want the Agency to become politicized. That was a turning point, it seems. Now we will have a different Agency Director with each change in administrations.

    What next? Are we to have Republican/conservative intelligence or Democratic/Liberal Intelligence?

    January 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  237. Rob the Younger

    Seems to me that Rep. Feinstein and Rep. Rockefeller are nervous about their pro-torture past...this is a good sign for those of us who want the Constitution restored...

    Thanks Grandpa Jack.


    January 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  238. Gary

    Obama did well in not selecting a professional from the current CIA lot. We wanted change, we voted for change and we are getting change. The worst current intelligent team has missed so often in the past 8 years. We need someone who has a clean background yet is very bright. I support Obama's choice of Leon Panetta.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  239. Eric

    Wasn't one of the key findings of the investigations into both the 9-11 and Iraq-war intelligence failures the fact that the CIA and other intelligence agencies fell victim to group-think? I think the nomination of a man with an experienced, outside perspective, like Panetta, shows that President-elect Obama actually learns from the mistakes of the past and listens to the recommendations of our best and brightest. It's a very welcome change.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  240. Don

    I've been a consultant to the CIA on and off for nearly 20 years. The culture of the Agency has become in-bred, risk averse and lacks honesty, accountability and integrity. The place desperately needs a reality check. Panetta is the sort of decent, honest, accountable manager who might be able to turn the place around. Plus he's a civilian and has gone on record against the misplaced torture tactics of the Bush administration. He's a great choice.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  241. Greg

    There should be a minimum qualification for this very important position. I would think the head of the CIA would need Intelligence experience or at least a very experience officer in the Military. Does Penetta hame any Military experience.

    Senator Fienstein is wrong to change her mind. I would like to know what Senator Rockafeller is saying now. If Penetta gets this position, nothing has really changed in politics.

    By the way I am a Clinton Democrate and a strong Hillary supporter.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  242. Armando Baralt, N.O. LA

    Career bureaucrat agents have a myopic view of their agency’s role, function and capabilities. We have a fantastic opportunity for implementing “out with the old and in with the new”. In keeping with this spirit Mr. Obama has wisely chosen an outsider to head this beleaguered agency.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  243. Herb

    Without a doubt an outsider needs to head up the CIA and all other departments. Secrecy has been one of the problems with the CIA and thus their is no control. An outsider is answerable to the people; and an insider keeps everything inside and us in the dark.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  244. Jotie H

    I believe that if a director should be selected, it should be from the inside the agency. Considering the current turmoils we are in, it is not a feasible decision to pick someone from outside, who may have little to no experience in this field. We do not need someone who needs an on site training, we need someone who knows what is going already in the agency to implement what we as Americans want for our safety and security.

    Jotie H
    University of Pittsburgh Student

    January 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  245. bill barry

    In Intelligence there are sources (agents, providers), producers, and users. The head of the CIA does not have to be from the Agency is he is a source or producer from another Intelligence office like DIA, NSA, etc. But, he should never be just a user whose only connection is that he read reports.

    Every branch of Government these days seems headed by a political hack just like the Soviet Army always had a commissar to make people toe the right political line. The source expert in the particular field is what's important, not the political overseer. Peuneta is not an experienced Intelligence type. We will pay for his learning experience and don't need his political hand on the tiller.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  246. Jeffery, Toledo, Ohio

    With all the controversy over such issues as torture, domestic wiretapping and the like, I like the idea of someone like Panetta, who is an "outsider", but also a proven adminitrator with a nearly impeccable reputation, being head of the CIA. This is one of the reasons we voted for change–we don't want the "good-old-boy" network anymore–and Panetta's nomination is one piece of concrete evidence that change is what we'll get.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  247. Jay/AL

    The CIA needs an outsider; Bush and his many crony insiders have us in the way we’re looked at and judged through out the world now as Bullies and decider’s.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  248. Debra Stephens, Atlanta

    The answer is obvious. What do you want to accomplish at the organization: change or more of the same. If you want change, you bring a good manager from outside, just as Obama has done. If you want more of the same, you promote from the ranks. I think this is an example of more "much ado about nothing." Let the guy do the job before we second guess.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  249. Peter Dixon

    Hi Jack

    Seems to me George H. W. Bush was also an outsider when he was appointed CIA director in 1976. His previous experience included
    chair of the Republican National Committee, and Ambassador to China.



    January 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  250. Jacqueline Mongeot

    Who can tell? Remember Tenet? He was an insider who confirmed, voluntarily or not the existemce of WMD in Iraq, thus instrumental in the Iraq war. Maybe a fresh start will better, especially with a person who is not easily manipulated, who will not accept torture as a mean to have a suspect confess to anything the Administration want to hear.. Panetta has the reputation of a true professional, intelligent, honest and hardworking. He will learn the ropes.
    Jacqueline San Diego CA

    January 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  251. Al Cunningham

    Panetta is among Obama's best choices: he's savvy and knows the "drill", along with being untainted by the past eight years' Intelligence snafus and excesses. Given what we know about the current Administration's damage to our domestic civil liberties and international respect, the only way to begin to assess, much less reign in a covert operation like the CIA is by an outsider. Leon Panetta brings no axe to grind, rather superior administrative and management skills and an understanding of where the bodies are likely buried, both literally and figuratively.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  252. John McTaggart

    I am Canadian. In Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently appointed an experienced business person "outsider" to head up the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) where there are similar "old boy network" internal issues and indications of incompetent performance. Of course the insiders were horrified that he was not one of them and perhaps had not ever shot a gun etc!

    It is not all bad. He sure can ask some questions about "why do we do it this way?"

    January 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  253. John Dickey

    Neither. The CIA is too large and too complex to employ such a criterion. It is no longer the agency of Helms, let alone the operation of Wild Bill Donovan. We need a person with relevant experience. Receiving CIA briefings every day is relevant experience. Having exceptional administrative skills is also crucial, and Panneta has them. For additional guidance consider the Intelligence experience of George H. W. Bush before becoming one of CIA's most successful directors.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  254. Robert Orth

    I'm sorry it's come to this, but I don't trust the insiders in the CIA. I have to question if they would be loyal to a liberal president. The administrators of our military don't seem to be. For example, John Kerry's military record seemed to have some very negative things added to it long after his service was over. George W's military records, however, mysteriously disappeared. Let us remember, this is a civilian government and the people have a constitutional right to elect a liberal president with liberal policies if they so choose. We need and outsider.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  255. Carol Lotz-Felix

    Anyone who has not been a part of the 'nothing is illegal for the CIA' mentality would be better to run the organization. It needs some serious remodeling in philosophy, respect for other countries and peoples, management and organization, ideals and values, retraining, priorities.... etc. etc. I recommend the new director read Blowback and Legacy of Ashes and try not to repeat the errors of the past.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  256. goutgrec

    Bush and Cheney have robbed the CIA blind of any credibility over the past 8 years between their ideology, outing of operatives, and twisted intelligence. Far as I'm concerned, Obama could Ralph Nader or Michael Moore in as director and we'd have a better result. Pannetta appears to be reasonable and experienced enough to know when something's rotten or wrong. Obama trusted him to run the transition and let's hope he will clean house and get rid of the Dr. Strangelove crowd.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  257. nasiru tejan

    I think it is good to have some one from outside somebody that will think deferent from what is on the spy menu we need somebody that will do something that is not what it used to be

    January 7, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  258. George J. Lujan

    Whether an appointee comes from within or without the CIA doesn't matter; the apointee and his or her qualifications do. Porter Goss came from within and he was terrible; George H. W. Bush came from outside the agency and the building is now named after him. Leon Panetta is the right man for the job: an excellent and accomplished manager, former legislator, White House chief of staff (so consumer of intelligence on a daily basis), former head of the OMB and a prestigous think tank, a former Rrepublican and current Democrat, and a civil rights attorney (think NSA and FISA) who has written about American ideals in connection with the rejection of torture. Sen. Feinstein said of Bush's appointment of the hapless Goss that presidents should have the person they choose, all things being equal; her remarks against Panetta are, therefore, puzzling. Where were Panetta's critics, especially those with oversight authority (yes, I'm referring to Feinstein in particular!), when the 'professionals' were dragging the CIA and Amereica's reputation through the mud?

    January 7, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  259. Benedict J. O'Hara Jr.

    The head of any organization should be chosen because he or she has the vision to foresee the direction in which the organization need to go to be effective and survive and the leadership ability to see his vision through. Someone from within may keep the backing of some potential enemies but i would prefer to keep all my enemies out in front of me. Enemies come from within and without. And then there is the matter of trust. If we were asking about replacing the CEO of GM. Would we be asking from within or outside. I think not it would be a unanimous OUTSIDE. The CIA is no different.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  260. Ralph Spyer

    The C.I.A. has undertaken covert regime change in 1953 Iran ,1953 and 1980 Italy; 1954 Guatemela,1960 Cuba ,1963 Iraq, 1967 Greece, 1978 and 1980 Afghanistan, 1992 Iraq again, 1980 Turkey, !981 and 1990 Nicargua, 2000 Zimbabwe, 2000 Sebia, 2002 Venezuela, 2003 Georgia, 2004 Ukraine, 2004 Guinea, 2005 Lebanon, 2006 Lebanon, 2006 Somalia, 2001 Iran again and 2007 Myanmar. Does Leon Panetta want to run this Terrorist Organization? PS I forgot Chile

    January 7, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  261. Tom Webber

    The most important experience that a director of CIA needs is an understanding of the needs of senior policy makers to make decisions. Getting finished intelligence estimates to the policy makers in an understandable and usable form is the director's essential role. Former directors like George H. Bush and Bob Gates (never confirmed) knew the process and they were highly successful. I would add that the most successful directors developed their own senior staff from within the Agency, rather than bring in their own associates. Stansfield Turner and Porter Goss brought in outsiders and were very ineffective and wildly unpopular with Agency professionals. Panetta would be best advised to build from within the intelligence ranks. The appointment will be popular because if finally returns the Agency to civilian rule, which is the reason it was established in 1947.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  262. LF Oneto - VA

    I don´t think it will make a difference as long as it is a competent person. For too long those appointments have been made on political basis.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  263. chuck b

    I believe that sommeone with political knowledge and knows there way around, but definitly someone "outside the CIA". We've delt with an insider ever since daddy bush was there and look at the foul ups.....It about time that we changed alot that washington has been doing over the years.....there is a smell coming from "the hill"

    January 7, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  264. David P. Vernon

    Tucson, AZ – About half of all the DCIs in history have been "outsiders." George H W Bush had less experience (a term or two in Congress) when he became DCI, and he was pretty good at it nonetheless. Panetta saw service in command in combat in Vietnam and was decorated for it, a more relevant experience than having worked a covert desk but not in the field. His son was a Navy LT in Afghanistan, decorated for that, almost cetainly in a covert role. Panetta was a customer of the DCI as Clinton's Chief of Staff. Meanwhile, some of the former role of the DCI has been transferred to the new job of DNI, so CIA now needs a competent bureaucrat, not a spook, to run it. I would have chosen Richard Clarke myself, but maybe they asked him and he refused. Panetta will be OK, he knows combat, he knows government, he knows administration, and he was a user of intelligence.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  265. Paul in Maryland

    Given the intel blunders of the recent past, maybe it is time for an outsider to come in and clean house. Recent events under the Bush administration, including the whole aftermath of 9/11 would seem to mandate oversight by an outsider. Kennedy found this out the hard way when he fired Allen Dulles after the Bay of Pigs debacle.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  266. Twaine

    He's technically not an outsider, but in the case of being associated with the CIA he probably is... Jack you know better than anybody else that Elected Presidents don't make much mistakes in appointing posts.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  267. Robert N. Horey

    Leon Panetta is/has been a competent manager. He has also been a CoS in the WH. He has served in the Iraq Study Group. A new look to the CIA's Director may offer some change in the organization instead of same 'ol same 'ol. The past 8 years have not been good to the CIA. The administration, the legislature and others have done a lot of finger pointing toward them. And most of it unwarranted. Tenant was a disaster by trying to please the administration than just present facts. They did start an investigation into the Plame outing, which became moot the second it appeared the WH was involved, and did present a PDB to the President saying al Qaeda was planning an attack that would have interferred with the President's vacation and received no attention. Panetta is a proponent of NO torture, Guantanamo and warrantless wiretapping. And a proponent OF the Constitution as something other than "just a goddamm piece of paper."

    January 7, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  268. Sunny from Alexandria VA

    Panetta is the right person for the job. He said: no torture, no exception. Amazing, he not only knows the Constitution, but he actually believes its still important to uphold! And he realizes that if we don't live by it, then other countries will not be held to that standard when they capture out soldiers either. The law is absolute. As for the torture, I think all of the CIA leaders and operators who executed torture should be prosecuted. I wouldn't 'water board' a dog, and surely not a human. Just ask McCain what his opinion of torture is. I'm a Republican, but I applaud this course correction. President Bush was way off base to set aside the Constitution and authorize the use of torture and hold 'terrorist suspects' in limbo without charges endlessly at GTMO. Glad to see the President elect fixing the CIA and the GTMO abomination! Might make me a Democrat. (no, probably not! but it's a great change anyway!)

    January 7, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  269. kathy in boerne texas

    A good leader and manager can make a lateral move at any time, no matter the organization. I think being an inny or an outy has no relevance when compared to the significance of integrity and unwaivering commit to excellence. Is this bringing change to Washington? Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Feinstein can put her big birl pants on and buck up. You don't need a microphone to tell the world your ego is out of joint. Silence is golden.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  270. David Funke

    The Obama choice may give the prsident what the office needs, the unvarnished true summary of the intelligence picture. Imagine, someone whose loyalties do not lie witj coworker in the intelligence communituy, congressional contacts, etc. Pametta may be the director who understands that his reponsibility is to serve the "President" with the best, straight forward intelligence possible and , yet, have the management ability to direct a more effective agency be listening and then assigning responsibility to the best qualified directors.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  271. Alan from California

    Frankly, I don't care if he or she is an insider or an outsider as long as whoever it is, is smart enough to know what building the Chinese Embassy is in before we bomb it.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:31 pm |
  272. Osiris from FL

    The CIA has become so powerful and politicized that sometimes it forgets the purpose of its creation. It it reminds me John Edgar Hoover’s FBI. CIA needs a director that keep it in check and re-establishes its purpose. Unfortunately, an insider will not do it. An outsider will catch hell but maybe he/she can effects change. I think John Panetta is one of the best outsiders out there to lead that agency.

    HAPPY NEW YEAR Jack and Wolf.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:31 pm |
  273. Dave, Brooklyn, NY

    So long as the nominee has a working knowledge of intelligence there is no reason that person should not be considered for the position. Those in charge for the last 8 years haven’t exactly done a bang up job. They should have dug their heels in when the realized that the Bush administration was knowingly going to war on false pretenses.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:31 pm |
  274. Bill


    Believe it or not I think President Elect Obama made a great pick concerning his choice of Leon Pametta as the Director of the CIA.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:32 pm |
  275. Wagner

    If given the choice between an individual with lack of experience in the intelligence community or a community of people build by a person with a general lack of intelligence, I choose the former.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:33 pm |
  276. jerry - Toronto, Canada

    It really shouldn't matter what side of the fence they come from if they can get the job done and done right. It's not like Leon Panetta last job was a security guard at the local mall. He's been in trenches, knows the players and will bring a fresh face, fresh ideas with an uncorruped view of the way things are run.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:35 pm |
  277. Nancy, Tennessee

    Dianne Feinstein seems to be the biggest outsider in this appointment. Panetta will do a good job and people critical of his appointment are either afraid of him or just irritated that they were not consulted before the choice was made. It's time to get over it and let Panetta give it his best shot.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:35 pm |
  278. Marsh in Texas

    It makes perfect sense to bring in an outsider to the CIA. The selection of Panetta sends a clear message to the world that we're taking the "Business as Usual" sign down at the CIA. Ahhhh....the winds of change are a commin'

    January 7, 2009 at 5:36 pm |
  279. Dale

    I'm a retired Air Force Intelligence officer and I also happen to have served as Mr. Panetta's grocery clerk for a year out in California. A truer gentleman never walked the earth, but I'm just as surprised as everyone by this appointment. Personally, my money was on Mr. Panetta for Attorney General. I think he'll do well at CIA though, as long as he remembers that in intelligence, what you have to lose is always just as important as what you have to gain.
    Mason, Michigan

    January 7, 2009 at 5:38 pm |
  280. Suzie. Fields

    Many people responding to this question believe that an outsider is better because they aren't tainted by Washington politics. Are these the same people last month who declared that all of Obama's picks of insiders (most to date) are brilliant because it takes a Washington Insider to clean things up? You Dems need to stop the hypocrisy.
    Oh and I liked your nice, gently comments today, Jack. They are refreshing from the hate Bush retoric you are so used to using.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:39 pm |
  281. Oliver

    I know this is the proper understanding, as to why he choose to go outside. It is a matter of trust, or as much trust that any can muster with this type of faction of our gov't. He, POTUS, needed someone that he knows will at least be honest with him. His pick wasn't a matter of in or out, it was a matter of sureity of honesty or not..
    As far as his ability to direct the CIA, doesn't come at such a steep price, ecspecially when even the director has advisors.. Let's just hope that he can play catch up to win the companionship of the other executives/agents inside the CIA already. The director's nomination, for the most part, shouldn't have been leaked to the committee through a news paper. Not a good first impression at all...

    January 7, 2009 at 5:39 pm |

    Outsider, we have had enough of the, you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours like with Bush and his bunch.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:39 pm |
  283. Cab

    Much has been made of the effects of living and working in a bubble. One who has made a career of working within the intelligence community might possibly be too accustomed to seeing the world in a particular way to bring about innovation. There are times when a fresh point of view can accomplish meaningful change.

    This is not to say that any outside appointment would be more effective than promoting from within. The appointee would have to be extraordinarily dedicated and sensitive to the needs of those in his charge as well as the objectives of his appointment in order to accomplish anything. Anything less would only result in a "heck of a job".

    January 7, 2009 at 5:40 pm |
  284. Patricia Wallis from Utah

    Jack I feel the CIA needs to clean house. The best way to do that is to
    pick outside "the good old buddy system" . It's a great idea for Pre-
    sident-elect Obama to choose outside the CIA crowd!!

    January 7, 2009 at 5:41 pm |
  285. Race Sorden

    In my opinion, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency should have experience both with the Agency and other branches of the federal government. Such an individual would be able to bring an necessary objectivity.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:42 pm |
  286. Bernie of Lowell, MA

    For the past eight years, the director of the CIA has been a mere prop for the Bush Administration, especially Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz.

    Any person selected to replace the current group of marionettes is an improvement.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:42 pm |
  287. Annie, Atlanta

    Outsider, definitely, who has the guts to get rid of insiders who just went along with Bush for the last 8 years, irregardless of those pesky little legalities.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:43 pm |