"I always liked Panetta. He served in the Army and is openly proud of it. He seems to be a good lawyer (oxymoronic though it may seem). He's a good manager. And he's going to watch Obama's back at a place that's full of stilettos and a track record for attempted presidential assassination second to none. But Italians know all about political assassination; you may remember Julius Caesar. Or Aldo Moro. The self-proclaimed cognoscenti will deride his lack of "spycraft," and he's never worked in the intel bureaucracy or, for that matter, in foreign policy or national security. But he's been chief of staff, which involved all that stuff. I think it's a smart move," - Michael Ledeen, NRO.
Joe Klein comments here. Others, like Goldberg and York, peddle the line that no one who has operated in the "real world" of intelligence could agree with Obama's attempt to move the US past the torture era. No: a huge majority of intelligence professionals agree with Obama on effective interrogation. But after eight years of a CIA tainted with torture and presidentially-sanctioned lawlessness, drawing a bright line under the recent past is critical.
That's why the Panetta pick is inspired. The more I think about it, the more that seems true. This is change we can believe in. And in this necessarily secret area, public trust is vital. For the first time in a long dark patch, we will regain it.