Is Obama Trying to Kill the CIA With Panetta Pick?

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The new guy going into the White House has, in my opinion, made great choices for his Cabinet. I especially liked Obama keeping Gates as secretary of Defense and asking General Jim Jones to serve.

I wrote in this column that I did not think Gates was the right choice to replace Rummy and I was way wrong, which of course begs the question why you should believe or listen to me now? I will let you figure that out while you continue reading and absorbing my brilliance on this piece.

Now let us return to my point, that while Obama has made some great choices for his Cabinet, his selection of Leon Panetta as the new director of Central Intelligence is just dead wrong.

Of the many missed opportunities that the Bush administration blew was a chance to thin out and reorganize the intelligence community. We had 22 national intelligence agencies, so what did we do? We put one guy in charge, the National Intelligence director, with a 500-person staff. The idea was to create an intelligence czar. Hell, the 9/11 Commission even said it was a good idea.

There is this huge problem though: the National Intelligence director was only put in charge of 17 of the 22 agencies. Another small aspect of this problem was that not only did the new czar not have all the agencies under his umbrella, he did not even have control of their budgets.

I do not mean to speak of this as if it was in the past; it is in the here and now.

Now what does this have to do with Leon Panetta? A lot. The CIA director used to be the main guy. His agency briefed the president every morning and was the big dog in the intelligence house. Now the CIA is in the backseat but still the lead agency, which makes no sense except in Washington D.C. It does not brief the president every morning, losing positional power.

The CIA has also taken the brunt of the blame for 9/11 and the lack of WMD in Iraq — not totally their fault, but enough for sure to cause the agency to suffer. The problem is that we need the CIA. We have no replacement for the clandestine service, be it organizational or talent-wise, and we are in the middle of war.

It does appear to me and the many men and women in the intelligence community and military that I have asked that Obama is trying to kill the CIA. Why else appoint a guy like Panetta, who many say is competent and read intelligence reports on a daily basis when he was the chief of staff for Clinton. Why not appoint a high school principal, a four-star general and put him in charge of, say, fighting in Afghanistan? This high school principal will have read a lot of military history and even watched the war flick "Band of Brothers." I get how absurd that sounds, which is exactly my point about Leon Panetta as the CIA director.

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Colonel David Hunt, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a FOX News military analyst and the author of the New York Times bestseller They Just Don’t Get It. He has extensive operational experience in counterterrorism, special operations, and intelligence operations. He has trained the FBI and Special Forces in counterterrorism tactics, served as the security adviser to six different Olympic Games, testified as an expert at many major terrorist trials, and lectured at the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency. You can read his complete bio here.