Another supporter who sees the key rationale:

Leading Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee Jay Rockefeller and Dianne Feinstein have already criticized the choice of Panetta, claiming the CIA needs to be led by an experienced intelligence professional. But right now political clout, and the ability to be a strong advocate for the CIA, far outweighs the virtues of being a professional spy, someone who knows the difference between a "live drop" and a "dead drop." A professional from the ranks would be eaten up by Hillary Clinton at State or Bob Gates at Defense. Or end up like Bill Clinton's CIA Director Jim Woolsey, shut out of the White House, ignored and irrelevant.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.