Condi Rice has a short interview in the NYT. She still refuses to admit to any mistakes. Oy. So, here is a link to one of my old posts where I consider her to be the worst National Security Adviser in US history.
As I tweeted today, the fun part is having Rumsfeld and Rice point figures at each other. Reminds me of how Rumsfeld's underling, Doug Feith, and Tommy Franks, who headed CENTCOM during the invasion, would accuse each other of being the dumbest mother@#$@#$ in government. Rummy is right that Rice was a horrible NSA. Why? In part because she could not manage the worst SecDef in history.
Lots of people are pondering today the next set of National Security folks for Obama: Panetta as SecDef, replacing the retiring Gates, Petraeus at CIA to replace Panetta, and so on. So, my first thought right now is--these folks clearly are going to be better than the Bush crew. That is not saying much, of course.
Folks would like an experienced administrator who is familiar with the intel process to head the CIA. How many of those do we have? Lots of worry that Petraeus's nomination is going to militarize the CIA. First, as many in the army would argue, Petraeus really is not like them. Plus he comes with an IR PhD (Princeton is known for having a decent program, I think). In his various positions, Petraeus has not only been a consumer of intelligence--using it to figure out what to do in Bosnia, Iraq in 2003, Iraq in 2007 and Afghanistan--but also a producer. J2! That is, in any military organization of any size, there is a section dedicated to gathering, analyzing, and synthesizing intel, including in SFOR in Bosnia, CENTCOM, his Iraq command, and at ISAF in Afghanistan. So, Petraeus has a great background for the job. Is this a way to sideline a potential Republican candidate at the same time? Maybe, but I doubt both that Petraeus has presidential ambitions and that the GOP would nominate someone like him (smart, open-minded, not a loon).
Panetta? He only has experience within Congress, at the OMB, and at the CIA. So, he has not been doing defense stuff directly, but his new job will be one where the focus is very much on the $$$. He is better armed than most to figure out how and where to cut. Yes, he could be blunt and do something across the board, but I doubt that he is that dumb. Is he going to be as smart about strategy and selection of officers as Gates? Not so sure, but there are no ideal candidates. And the idea that Obama would give a good job to Lieberman who has proven he cannot be trusted is just laughable.
Of course, people thought in early 2001 that Bush had picked a team of super-experts. Experts at making huge mistakes as it turns out. The proof will be in the pudding as they say (who? pudding addicts), so we will have to wait and see. These names had been floating for weeks, so there will be no surprises along the way.