Feinstein comes around

FEINSTEIN COMES AROUND…. If all of Barack Obama’s intra-party squabbles can be resolved this quickly, he’ll be in very good shape.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the incoming chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday she intends to support President-elect Barack Obama’s choice for CIA chief, Leon Panetta, despite her earlier comments that she had reservations about the choice. […]

Feinstein said in an interview that she spoke with Panetta, a fellow Californian, for about 20 minutes on Tuesday evening and came away reassured.

“I had a good discussion with him. I’m confident that he understands. I am supportive,” Feinstein said. “I’ve known him for 20 years. I know him to be a man of credibility and a man of conscience and a man of talent, and I believe he will surround himself with top-notch staff from the intelligence community.”

On Monday, when Feinstein initially balked about Obama’s choice, she told reporters she wanted an “intelligence professional” as the CIA director, and Panetta didn’t qualify. Panetta must have been very persuasive on the phone.

I’d also hazard a guess that Obama agreed to keep Stephen Kappes on as the CIA’s second-highest ranking official, and that helped bring Feinstein around.

As for the unpleasantness about Feinstein learning about the Panetta pick from news reports, instead of the transition team, the California senator told reporters that’s “all behind us,” adding, “I believe there was an oversight and I don’t really care about that.”

With Feinstein on board, Panetta’s confirmation seems very likely.

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