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Obama Formally Rolls Out Intelligence Team


President-elect Barack Obama moves toward the podium as Leon Panetta, nominated to head the CIA, looks away during a news conference in Washington, D.C. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

By Anne E. Kornblut
President-elect Barack Obama announced Leon Panetta as his next Central Intelligence Agency director today, following through on a selection that provoked a backlash from some lawmakers and members of the intelligence community when news of it leaked earlier in the week.

Obama made the announcement as part of a broader roll-out of his national security team, starting with the appointment of retired Adm. Dennis Blair as his Director of National Intelligence. Obama praised both men's "core pragmatism" and said that, together, Blair and Panetta would "form a team that is uniquely qualified" to meet the intelligence challenges of the post-9/11 era, though he did not mention their specific agendas.

Obama went out of his way to describe Panetta as qualified for the position. Describing Panetta as "one of the finest public servants of our time," Obama said he would have his "complete trust and substantial clout" at the CIA, with the full authority of the White House behind him. "He has handled intelligence daily, at the very highest levels, and time and again he has demonstrated sound judgment, grace under fire, and complete integrity," Obama said.

Obama also announced John Brennan, who had initially been considered for the CIA post, as the Homeland Security Adviser, a post that may be folded into the National Security Council after Obama takes office. Brennan will also have the title of deputy National Security Adviser.

Mike McConnell, the current DNI, will retain an advisory position, Obama said.

Though the focus of the press conference was national security, Obama opened it with remarks about new job loss data that he said "only underscores the need for us to move with a sense of urgency and common purpose" to pass his stimulus package.

"This morning we received a stark reminder about how urgently action is needed," Obama said. "Clearly the situation is dire."

Posted at 11:16 AM ET on Jan 9, 2009  | Category:  National Security
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So,what with all of these endless nonsense
Loser Elect #44 (Little Bush)Barack Obama
have to have another stupid press conference to announce he named Senor Juan
Sanchez an Illegal Alein to be Head White House Janitor?..After all other Presidents
never pulled this kind of phony baloney BS
con jobs but instead announced their full
cabinet at one single press confernce.

Impeach Barack Hussein Obama and Joe Biden
in 2009. Hey Nancy Pelosi Drain This Swamp.

Posted by: Pam83 | January 9, 2009 3:21 PM

The Homeland Security Bill of 2002 (that created the Homeland Security Dept.), had 8 agencies on it to revamp. CIA and FBI were on the list, as per Bush's desire.
Our wonderful Congress, at the time, griped and groaned about having the CIA and FBI on that bill --so they voted to pass the Homeland Security Bill without intent to revamp CIA and FBI. It wasn't necessarily Bush that hung them out to dry (except if one considers the NSA Surveillance debacle)--it was a Congressional vote that did it.

Leon Panetta and Dennis Blair will be a force to reckon with. The FBI and CIA has a "shoot first mentality". These agencies were "raised like children" throughout the years, to carry guns, be ruled by guns, and make their stake by guns--coupled with a modicum of violence. Very militaristic in nature--a militaristic pattern of behavior. Very prevalent. That pattern of behavior has flowed over into the federal and now, state agencies. It is no longer "innocent until proven guilty" in America. It is "we assume you guilty, now prove you are innocent".

Can Leon and Dennis change it? I hope so.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | January 9, 2009 2:43 PM

hmmm....to quote
"So far he has made an image of timid, heart-less, human-less president"

How has President Elect Obama done that?
If anything, President Elect Obama has told the truth, squashed press-run-rampid stories, done his research, and prepared wonderfully for the office he will take in 11 days.

Now tell me how he is a heart-less, human-less and timid?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | January 9, 2009 2:34 PM

I feel Obama's Security Team may not make any changes in the current behaviour, conduct and policies of the Bush Administration, only becuase Obama has picked up almost all the members from one and only one goon similar to Bush, who had picked up nothing else but the NEOCONS and he has not only ruined his Prsedency but the moral value, human face and economical and political power of America. Obama has to be a different than Bush in all respects to be a REAL PRESIDENT. So far he has made an image of timid, heart-less, human-less president. Hope, he may change that image immediately otherwise his Presidency will be over before even starts.

Posted by: citysoilverizonnet | January 9, 2009 2:24 PM

I don't think there's any doubt about Panetta's qualifications; but we'll see if he can win the trust and allegiance of rank-and-file CIA; and I suspect he can.

I would imagine the CIA is crying out to be taken seriously in the new administration after the Bush administration hung them out to dry. If Panetta brings them the respect they need, he will in turn receive theirs.

My prediction.

Posted by: bluejackseattle | January 9, 2009 1:51 PM

I guess time will tell if Mr. Panetta is qualified and rather quickly I should think with the U.S. involved in the war on terror as well as two regional conflicts.

Posted by: TheRigoMan | January 9, 2009 12:45 PM

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