Dennis Blair, the former head of the U.S. Pacific Command, has been tapped by President-elect Obama to be the nation’s next intelligence director. Dita Alangkara / Associated Press
“Issuing executive orders on issues such as prohibiting torture or closing Guantánamo Bay would make clear that his administration will do things differently” Leon Panetta
WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama is slated to formally announce his surprise choices for CIA director and a national intelligence director Friday morning.
The choices of Leon Panetta to head the CIA and retired Adm. Dennis Blair as national intelligence director haven’t been sitting well with everyone.
Blair could face some tough questioning over how he confronted the Indonesian military as head of U.S. Pacific Command when civilian massacres were occurring in East Timor.
He also likely will be asked about his resignation from a Pentagon think tank, which happened after the Senate Armed Services Committee raised questions about him serving on the boards of two defense contractors the think tank was reviewing.
Obama also has chosen a longtime Democratic defense expert to be the No. 2 official at the Pentagon.
William Lynn was a top Pentagon budget official under former President Bill Clinton and a defense adviser to Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy before that. If confirmed by the Senate he would become Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ deputy. Gates is staying on in the top civilian job.
Obama’s transition office announced the names of several other Pentagon selections on Thursday, including Michele Flournoy for the No. 3 job. She’s been the co-chair of Obama’s Pentagon transition team.
In a statement, Obama said he is confident his picks will help build what he called a sustainable national security strategy that answers the threats of the 21st century.
Critics say Leon Panetta, a former White House chief of staff, lacks the necessary background to head the CIA. But one analyst says Panetta would bring considerable international and management experience to the spy agency’s reform efforts. (Jan. 7)
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