President-elect Barack Obama just formally named Dennis Blair and Leon Panetta as his picks to be the next Director of National Intelligence and Director of Central Intelligence, respectively.
The choice of Panetta has been especially controversial, since he has no experience inside the intelligence world. In his comments today, Obama said that Panetta, a former White House chief of staff and Office of Management and Budget director,Â was chosen for his management skills and to restore the CIA’s clout:
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. … He will be a strong manager and a strong advocate for the CIA. He knows how to focus resources where they are needed, and he has a proven track record of building consensus and working on a bipartisan basis with Congress.
Obama also said that the current DNI, Michael McConnell, will advise him as a member of the Foeign Intelligence Advisory Board. Michael Leiter will remain as head of the National Counterterrorism Center. And John Brennan — who was expected to head the CIA until concerns over his attitudes towards torture caused him to take his name out of the running — will be Obama’s homeland security advisor and deputy national secretary adviser for counterterrorism.