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Obama’s Picks for Top Intel Jobs Stir Mixed Reactions

President-elect Barack Obama's appointments for the nation's top intelligence jobs were met with skepticism by some members of Congress who expected candidates with more intelligence experience. Intelligence analysts mull the appointments.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Now, the new team to run American intelligence. Judy Woodruff has that story.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Even Washington insiders were caught off-guard by the word that one of their own, Leon Panetta, is President-elect Obama's choice to run the CIA.

    Although the appointment is still not official, Mr. Obama praised Panetta today for his management skills and integrity. A former member of Congress, Panetta served as chief of staff to President Clinton and was a member of the Baker-Hamilton Commission on Iraq.

    The pick for director of national intelligence is retired Admiral Dennis Blair. He once served as Pentagon liaison to the CIA.

    We get the views now of two intelligence professionals. Michael Scheuer headed the CIA team responsible for hunting Osama bin Laden in the late 1990s. He's now a fellow at the Jamestown Foundation. His forthcoming book is "Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam after Iraq."

    And Ray McGovern worked as a CIA analyst for 27 years. He's now a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group of former intelligence officers.

    Gentlemen, thank you both for being with us.

    And, Ray McGovern, to you first. You think Leon Panetta is a good choice.

    RAY MCGOVERN, former analyst, CIA: I think it's an excellent choice. I think what you just said before about character, integrity, and management skills, I think that's the name of the game here. I think that Panetta has those.

    I think his being an outsider is a virtue, rather than a drawback. He has no association with the abuses of the last decade and more. He can come in and look at things without having to cover up.

    He doesn't need to prove himself. You know, he's shown himself to be worthy of doing a good job by virtue of his previous experience.

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