Not that I'm the first one to notice the likely motivation behind the musical chairs game between Secretary of Defense and CIA Director, but that motivation is worth at least a couple of paragraphs of blog-scribble.
Leon Panetta was an odd choice for CIA but not to the point of raising a flag. His great claim to fame will of course be the capture of bin Laden, which will likely overshadow anything else that occurred on his watch rendering his Senate confirmation a rubber stamp. But do we know all there is to know about the man soon to be in charge of our military?
The New Zeal blog has a piece (some would say a hit piece) out on him making reference to his time in the House during the 80s and a supposed friendship with known Communist Hugh DeLacy, a former member of the House from Washington State. Wingnut smear or just a story unreported?
Looking around there's not much on the web about DeLacy. Here's a short blurb from the University of Washington--sounds like a reputable source--claiming he was indeed a communist but died in 1976. That's odd, because New Zeal says Panetta penned a letter to DeLacy in 1977. Wikipedia says he died in 1986--so much for the U of Washington's page.
Meanwhile Wiki provides very little about his political views to challenge New Zeal, which points out that Panetta wrote a series of letters to DeLacy and placed a tribute to him in the Congressional Record along with speaking at his memorial service. Is it appropriate to ask why he was so close to a known communist or whether he shared any of his views or rather just thought of the man as a friend without endorsing his politics? Yes, a rhetorical question, but if ANY Republican had similar interaction with say a John Birch Society member it would likely be a big story in the press.
History tells us that since that time--the 80s--Panetta has shown himself a moderate lefty and loyal party man, doing nothing to indicate he's anything less than a patriotic liberal American. Besides, no Senator in their right mind would start going McCarthy on a guy who just helped score the bin Laden hit. Come to think of it, that itself could become a rather useful cloak against further criticism. Regardless, he will soon be in charge of our nation's military, so what does it mean?
Politico has a piece out detailing the 5 challenges for the first Democrat Secretary of Defense since William Perry in the 90s. It makes sense to think a liberal administration would want a party man in place to shepherd the end of "don't ask, don't tell", the drawdown in Iraq, the escape from Afghanistan, the non-war in Libya, the Arab Spring Middle Eastern clusterfark, and an almost certain DoD budget cut. That's really the main takeaway aside from any shadowy associations that cannot be proven.
Meanwhile, putting General Petraeus at CIA most likely indicates the direction the administration may take in the GWoT--a more John Kerryish Special Ops clandestine approach less dependent on boots on the ground. Whether it also says anything about how America will interrogate future HVTs is uncertain; most in the military were against "enhanced interrogation" but not much is known about the HIG unit (keeping a low-pro) now that its formation doesn't serve any political goals. But maybe we'll soon be told that after the death of bin Laden and withdrawal from the war zones the WoT is effectively now just a nuisance, so it won't matter. Time will tell.