Obama picks new CIA chief

CIA has been criticized for the use of waterboarding, and toture on al Qaeda suspects, for the secret transfer of kidnapped suspects to countries known to use torture and for the use of secret prisons overseas for high-level captives.

Obama picks new CIA chief
President-elect Barack Obama has chosen former White House chief of staff Leon Panetta to lead the CIA, which has been widely criticized for torture of suspects, Democratic officials said on Monday.

The pick of Panetta for Central Intelligence Agency director was one of the last major nominations for the incoming Obama administration, which takes over from President George W. Bush on Jan. 20.

Panetta has relatively little experience in national security matters, though he did participate in daily intelligence briefings with President Bill Clinton when he served as Clinton's chief of staff between 1994 and 1997.

He is best known as a budget expert who tamed deficits in the White House and during a prior 16-year stint in Congress.

He was a member of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan commission that was charged with assessing a way to end the Iraq war. Its recommendations for a phased troop withdrawal were largely ignored by the Bush administration, which chose to increase the U.S. military presence there instead.

Intelligence experts said Panetta's knowledge of the inner workings of government, and his strong bipartisan reputation for fairness, would prove valuable.

Panetta would succeed Michael Hayden, who has been criticized by some Democrats and human rights groups for toture tactics.

CIA sins

The CIA has been at the center of a number of major controversies during Bush's presidency, beginning with the intelligence failures before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and then the faulty prewar intelligence about Iraq's weapons programs.

The agency also has been criticized for the use of waterboarding, or simulated drowning, and toture on al Qaeda suspects, for the secret transfer of kidnapped suspects to countries known to use torture and for the use of secret prisons overseas for high-level captives.

Obama has vowed to "put a clear end to torture" and restore a balance between security and constitutional protections.



Reuters
Last Mod: 06 Ocak 2009, 17:28
Add Comment