Josh is onto something:

I'm not certain what I think about this appointment yet. But on first blush, the nature of the opposition makes me more inclined to support it.

That strikes me as exactly right. Feinstein and Rockefeller sense a real individual with real clout at the agency, whom they cannot control. There may have been a lack of foresight here in not phoning Feinstein ahead of time. But it is also indisputable that many leading intelligence Democrats were deeply complicit in the Bush torture program and his illegal wire-tapping. It was just as important for the president-elect to pick someone not beholden to them either.

Some are now citing Panetta's appointment as somehow "political" rather than substantive. But it's obvious that Obama has actually found someone both capable of running a bureaucracy as complex as the CIA, of a stature to be approved by the Congress and maintain good relations, and with the good sense to know how interrogation based on torture is never right and much less effective than legal methods.

It remains an inspired choice. And the critics help show why.