That’s pancetta. A Christmas fruit cake is a panettone, and a toasted sandwich is a panini. All come from the word for bread, “pane.” I have been on the phone nearly constantly since yesterday’s revelation that the next DCI will be Leon Panetta. Most former CIA officers think it is a good choice since Panetta is moderate, reasonable, and understanding of Washington’s ways. There is a fiction going around that the head of CIA has to be an intelligence officer. I would argue that he has to be a civilian for all kinds of good reasons, but he does not actually have to understand in detail how the Agency runs operations and does its analysis. The Director has to be able to learn enough to be able to stand by the intelligence product and explain it, but he will have plenty of experienced professionals in place guiding him until he is ready to make his own judgments. If he is smart, which reportedly he is, he will watch, listen, and ask a lot of questions. His job is to make sure that the best possible analysis is being produced and that it is presented as dispassionately as possible to the policy makers. That is what George Tenet failed to do, becoming himself involved in the intelligence product and its exploitation.
The choice of Panetta also has to be seen as a plus because it reportedly really upset Senator Diane Feinstein, who was not consulted by Obama even though she is the new chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Feinstein was reportedly pushing for fellow Californian Congresswoman Jane Harman to get the nod. Harman would have been a disaster in the position as CIA bureaucrats would have moved immediately to undercut her. Agency staffers who have dealt with her on the House Intelligence Committee report her to be someone who knows everything but understands nothing, though that description could reasonably be applied to most congressmen.