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President-elect Barack Obama has chosen former White House chief of staff Leon Panetta to lead the CIA, which has been widely criticized for harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects, Democratic officials said on Monday. The choice of Panetta for Central Intelligence Agency director was one of the last major nominations for the incoming Obama administration, which takes over from President George W. Bush on January 20.
I asked my original source what he thought of Panetta. He said: “A fascinating pick. He is very smart and capable, and a power center to himself in Washington. He was very effective as White House chief of staff under Clinton and understands how to operate in Washington. He will not be pushed around by Jones, Blair, or anyone else in uniform. I think he is the most powerful individual pick yet, even more than Clinton at State, because he doesn’t have negative political baggage. I suspect he will have direct access to POTUS, and throw considerable weight in discussions, all of which is good for the agency.”
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”