Panetta's clashes with Intel community

I guess CIA spending won’t be part of the stimulus package.


Leon Panetta: Just the Man for the Job!

From the CIA's own on-line institutional history:

[Former CIA Director James] Woolsey was determined to work closely with the new leaders of DOD .... In particular, Woolsey pressed for progress in developing unmanned aerial vehicles for reconnaissance in close cooperation with DOD. ...

Woolsey also used DOD as an ally in preparing and defending the Intelligence Community’s program and budget. Leon Panetta, the Clinton administration’s first director of OMB, had indicated to Woolsey early in 1993 that OMB was considering providing the DCI with top-line guidance, perhaps with a publicly disclosed figure, and seeking sizable out-year cuts in intelligence spending. Woolsey also faced skeptical audiences in Congress anxious to find an additional “peace dividend” in intelligence spending as well as in the larger defense budget. From Woolsey’s perspective, he had the unenviable task of managing declining intelligence budgets in an era of multiplying intelligence targets (the “poisonous snakes”), and he did not wish to see each intelligence agency develop its own downsizing plan in isolation. Downsizing in fact offered the DCI an opportunity if he could use it as an incentive to advance community integration.

Woolsey was willing to accommodate such pressures to some degree (among his first major decisions as DCI were cancellations of major collection programs no longer viewed as affordable), but he fought tenaciously to limit the cuts and to justify what he considered a responsible level of NFIP spending. This stance earned him in March 1993 press attention that unfairly portrayed him as not on board with overall administration policy. In April he wrote to the president, giving him a carefully framed explanation of how his planned program—despite a near-term increase—would achieve the five-year savings goals Clinton had set for intelligence. The spending issue at times preoccupied Woolsey, and it reinforced his inclination to cleave closely to DOD. ...


Woolsey’s aggressive defense ... came at some cost in his relationships with OMB and the White House. From OMB’s perspective, he came across as confrontational in his efforts to keep OMB from examining, and possibly cutting, his budget. ... DCI and DOD leaders, in a personal meeting with President Clinton, gained the president’s agreement—over OMB objections—to a program and budget Woolsey had worked out in concert with DOD. The DCI was almost euphoric about his success as he returned to CIA headquarters, but he soon received a message from Panetta that Woolsey would “pay” for his budget victory.

Panetta is certainly a surprise pick for DCIA. Here, he seems quite provincial and too wedded to procedure.

These are not qualities that would recommend him for the job.