Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Jeff Stein has a weird piece up on CQ.

"In contrast, the president-elect’s national security team has had trouble finding an appropriate candidate to become the CIA’s next chief.

One knowledgeable source said that the Obama team was “back to zero” on finding a CIA chief, an assertion rejected by a transition official.

Running the spy agency has become less attractive to personalities who once might have sought the position, sources say, ever since it was subsumed by the new national intelligence directorate (ODNI), set up after the surprise 9/11 attacks.

'A lot of people don’t want the job,' said the source, because the CIA chief is no longer top dog in the fractious, 16-agency intelligence community, and no longer gives the President his daily briefing. The Obama team has gone down “some blind alleys” in finding the right person, the source said.

Whereas in pre-9/11 times the job might have been a springboard to bigger things, now “it’s a career ender” because it requires direct supervision of such contentious policies as renditions and interrogations.

'You’ve got to just really love it,' a former top CIA official said, 'because it’s too painful otherwise.'”

It's true that candidates like Gannon and Devine have their reservations about the ODNI.

Spencer Ackerman comments:

You’d think that Obama could just tell people “We’re not going to torture anymore.” But who knows? Maybe that’s because he’s reserving the right to torture people. In fairness, there’s a long tradition of people not wanting to be CIA director, as it’s a thankless job that often ends in being blamed for policy failure.

Fun fact: John Deutch thought the position was rinkydink when Bill Clinton offered it to him after a certain neocon know-nothing proved to be a crappy director. Deutch wanted to be defense secretary. It didn’t happen. CIA director is rarely a stepping stone to anything, Bob Gates notwithstanding.

I have a feeling the source in Stein's article is being a little cynical. And it's extremely funny to think that now people are upset at overseeing rendition and torture. At one point did it bother Kappes, Hayden, McLaughlin or Brennan at the CIA? Are they all to the left of Obama now?

On the other hand, one wonders how effective an intelligence transition team featuring the likes of John Brennan could be. Trial balloon? Petulant source? Bad journalism on the part of Stein?

You be the judge.

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