DiFi: “You don’t write, you don’t call…”

From The Washington Post:

President-elect Barack Obama said yesterday that he has selected a “top-notch intelligence team” that would provide the “unvarnished” information his administration needs, rather than “what they think the president wants to hear.”


On Capitol Hill, Democrats on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence were still stewing over Obama not consulting them on the choice before it was leaked Monday and continued to question Panetta’s intelligence experience. Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. acknowledged that the transition team had made a “mistake” in not consulting or even notifying congressional leaders, and Obama telephoned committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and her predecessor, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), yesterday to apologize.

Original DVD cover.

“Obama trusts [Panetta] — that’s a huge plus,” committee member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said, citing Panetta’s management expertise as Clinton White House chief of staff and budget director. But “after the past 24 hours, Leon Panetta is likely to get a good grilling” at his confirmation hearing, Wyden said.


The Panetta uproar starts Obama off on the wrong foot with the committee and intelligence professionals and was the latest glitch in what has largely been an unusually smooth and carefully choreographed transition.

“It’s always good to talk to the requisite members of Congress,” Biden said. “I think it was just a mistake.”


Obama is expected to publicly name Panetta, as well as retired Navy Adm. Dennis C. Blair as director of national intelligence, this week. Panetta began making introductory calls to lawmakers yesterday, Obama aides said.

Although several top CIA officials who have interacted with Obama since the election expressed admiration for his grasp of the issues, the transition process has clearly left a bad taste. One senior official said that “the process was completely opaque” and that the agency was neither consulted nor informed.


An official who participated in the Obama team’s deliberations dismissed concerns about Panetta’s lack of experience, saying that a number of previous directors had little or no “inside-the-intelligence-community experience. Most of them were from the outside . . . What you need is someone who can represent the agency well in the corridors of power in Washington.”


In a clear reference to harsh interrogation policies, including waterboarding, that were used against CIA terrorism detainees, Obama said his team would be “committed to breaking with some of the past practices and concerns that have, I think, tarnished the image of . . . the intelligence agencies as well as U.S. foreign policy.”


A widely held view among intelligence officials was that Obama’s team had decided to automatically disqualify any candidate who might have been seen as tainted by association with the controversial interrogation and detention policies of the Bush presidency — essentially anyone who held a management job in the past eight years. Former senior CIA official John O. Brennan, who headed the transition intelligence team, withdrew his name from consideration over concerns that his association with interrogation and rendition policies under President Bush and then-CIA director George J. Tenet would taint Obama.

A number of Tenet-era officials have argued that they were simply carrying out orders that the president and the attorney general, as well as Congress, had approved. [Michael] Hayden, the outgoing director, defended interrogation policies, including waterboarding, that many have labeled torture, saying they were necessary to break some terrorism suspects.


The desire to retain [CIA Deputy Director Stephen ] Kappes and [Intelligence Director Michael] Morell, both of whom held senior positions under Tenet as well as with Hayden, however, indicated that Obama does not intend to clean house beyond the top leadership level.


Obama has said that he plans to close the detention facility at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and that he would “make sure we do not torture.” Feinstein introduced legislation yesterday to do both.

The bill provides for “a legal, effective, and humane system of gathering intelligence and holding suspected terrorists.”


It would also restrict the CIA and other intelligence agencies to 19 interrogation techniques authorized by the Army Field Manual, “creating a clear, single standard across the U.S. government.”

From Talking Points Memo:

Just spoke to Sen. Ron Wyden’s (D-OR) office, where a spokeswoman confirmed what was hinted at this morning: Wyden had been in contact with the Obama transition team to discuss the Leon Panetta nomination, while incoming Senate intelligence chairman Dianne Feinstein was still in the dark.


But now that we know Wyden had talked to the Obama transition, two questions arise:

1. Who else on Senate intel knew about it before Feinstein, whose support for AG Michael Mukasey had aroused the ire of many progressives?

2. Is this a case of the New York Times getting the news before the transition could inform Feinstein … or a case of a powerful senator kept in the dark on purpose?


Filed under 2008 election, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Chimpy, CIA, Dianne Feinstein, George Tenet, George W. Bush, Guantanamo, humor, Jay Rockefeller, Joe Biden, Michael Hayden, Michael Mukasey, movies, New York Times, parody, politics, Senate Intelligence Committee, snark, Torture, waterboarding, Wordpress Political Blogs

9 responses to “DiFi: “You don’t write, you don’t call…”

  1. jlms qkw - jenn

    difi and jay can bite my big toe. respectfully.

    looks great, nonnie!

  2. jeb

    Too bad they didn’t show that much indignation with Bu$hco which was really pulling sleight of hand. I can understand somewhat her being peeved and not being consulted but is this how they intend to start out? Airing everything in the press? This is where the rethugs laugh because they know Dems can be their own worst enemies.

  3. jeb,
    i hope the dems don’t get too full of themselves now that they have the white house and congress. they are all legends in their own minds, but they had better learn how to work together for the good of the country instead of just tending to their own egos.

  4. jenn,
    get a tetanus shot beforehand. just in case. 😉

  5. nightowl724

    I would not have consulted Feinstein, either! As a matter of fact, I’d be looking to send her out as an Ambassador… to Siberia or some remote island somewhere whose name we can’t pronounce.

    Extraordinary rendition; illegal wiretapping both domestic and foreign; torture; Gitmo and other black sites; spying on us via libraries, bookstores, Amazon.com, search engines; surveillance of Peaceniks and non-Bushniks; free speech zones; racial profiling; no-fly lists; Mukaskey love; eavesdropping on American soldiers; all while Ms. Devine Fine looked the other way!

    nonnie, your work is TERRific. Feinstein’s work is HORRific!

  6. nightowl,
    i am amazed that difi has been able to hang on to her senate seat for as long as she has. i remember when she was mayor of san francisco (which only happened because moscone was murdered), and she didn’t strike me as too bright back then. she gave a heads up to richard ramirez, the night stalker, by blabbing about his shoes , the footprints he left, and the kind of gun that was used in the murders. as a result, he ditched the shoes and the gun. the detectives were pissed, as they should have been. anyone with any brains would have realized that you don’t announce what evidence you have, especially when revealing it won’t help you find the killer. when i hear her speak now, i am just as unimpressed with her.

  7. nightowl724

    OOPS! I meant “divine!” HAHAHAHA!

  8. Difi the DINO lost her accountability when she kowtowed to Bush’s every request.
    She deserves to be marginalized by Obama.

  9. karen,
    i don’t think it was an oversight, i think it was a deliberate slight to difi and rockefeller. at least, i hope it was.