CIA: Puzzlement Over the Panetta Pick

President-Elect Obama may have pleased his base by naming a CIA chief—former Clinton aide Leon Panetta—who had nothing to do with the Bush administration's controversial interrogation practices. But Obama may have riled them back up with his decision to give adviser John Brennan, who abandoned his bid for the top CIA job when left-wing bloggers pelted him for defending some agency actions, a wide-ranging counterterrorism portfolio in the White House. The post is not subject to Senate confirmation. Several intel and political sources, who asked for anonymity when discussing personnel matters, said that Obama also wants to retain CIA Deputy Director Steve Kappes, a favorite of congressional Democrats, whose involvement with contentious Bush policies was deeper than Brennan's.

Liberal activists are frothing for investigations into officials who carried out warrantless-wiretapping policies and employed "enhanced" interrogation techniques on captured terror suspects. They hope to have an ally in Panetta, who wrote an article in 2008 strongly condemning the use of "torture" in the name of "national security." Some anxious spies fear the new CIA chief could launch a witch hunt—one that would destroy morale and make the agency more risk-averse.

Officials familiar with the views of Obama's team insist there's no massive probe coming. But a senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Oregon's Ron Wyden, told NEWSWEEK he will push to declassify top-secret CIA interrogation files outlining how the agency came to use methods such as waterboarding; what its legal authorizations were for doing so; and what (if any) evidence exists to demonstrate that such techniques actually worked. Wyden said he has raised declassification with Obama's team; no word on their reply. "The terroristdetention program has operated in strict accord with the law," said CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano. "Were that not the case, there would indeed be cause for concern."