You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Why Panetta? The Gates Factor

Leon Panetta seemed to come out of nowhere as Obama's CIA pick. But as the insta-reporting notes, he was a member of the 2006 Iraq Study Group team. Another member of that panel was Defense Secretary Robert Gates--who is himself a former CIA director, remember. Bob Woodward's latest book, The War Within recounts, among other things, a long discussion between Panetta and Gates on the return flight from a fact-finding mission to Iraq. The passage includes the concern of the organization-oriented Panetta that no one was clearly in charge of US Iraq policy:

He knew from his experience as President Clinton’s chief of staff that someone in the White House had to take charge of such issues. But the Bush administration seemed to have no such authority. “Who controls policy there? Is it Hadley? Is it Rice? Is is Rumsfeld? Is it the National Security Council?”
The others agreed it was an important question. Panetta tried to get an answer but never did.

--Michael Crowley