Rep. Nancy Pelosi, (D) Speaker of the House, said Friday she supports the choice of Leon Panetta by Barack Obama to be the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Pelosi also had kind words for Obama's decision to pick retired Admiral Dennis Blair to be Director of National Intelligence.
“In selecting Admiral Dennis Blair and Leon Panetta to direct the intelligence community and one of its most critical agencies, President-elect Obama has chosen two strong leaders who understand well the value of timely and reliable intelligence.
The Panetta pick has drawn criticism from some observers because he is not someone with much hands-on national security or intelligence experience. However, no one disputes that he knows government.
The former eight-term congressman from California has had plenty experience in overseeing all aspects of the federal bureaucracy as a former chairman of the House Budget Committee, as budget director and then chief of staff for President Bill Clinton; and more recently as a member of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group.
“Leon Panetta brought impeccable judgment and unquestioned integrity to his service in difficult and demanding jobs in Congress and the executive branch," Pelosi said. "The experience he gained from his previous service and his character and values will be of great assistance as he directs the CIA."
Panetta, 70, who has an easy laugh and slightly owlish demeanor behind large round glasses, was popular on both sides of the aisle in the 16 years that he represented the Monterey, Calif., district where he was born to Italian immigrant parents.
He still lives there today with his wife, Sylvia. He graduated from and has also taught at Santa Clara University.
Leon Panetta understands Congress, particularly the essential oversight responsibilities Congress has, and the information needed to do the oversight job effectively. Under his leadership, I am confident that the CIA will enjoy a strong working relationship with Congress.”