U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has just announced that the Senate Intelligence Committee (of which she’s the new chair) will hold a confirmation hearing at 2:30 p.m. EST (that’s 11:30 a.m. our time) this Thursday, Feb. 5 for California’s own Leon Panetta, the former Congressman and Clinton White House Chief of Staff whom President Barack Obama has nominated to serve as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
This should be particularly interesting — remember, Feinstein was publicly peeved when the Obama transition team put out Panetta’s name before running it past her first. “My position has consistently been that I believe the Agency is best-served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time,” she said at the time. Within two days, she’d reversed herself: “I had a good discussion with him. I’m confident that he understands. I am supportive. … 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.”
There have been rumors that Feinstein and Panetta have some lingering bad blood left over from their behind-the-scenes jockeying before the 1998 Democratic gubernatorial primary, in which neither of them ended up running.
That’s almost certainly ancient history and will have no effect on Panetta’s confirmation now. Still, any time there’s that much history, it makes things just a bit spicier (if only for us observers).