The Senate has voted unanimously to confirm outgoing CIA Director Leon Panetta as the next U.S. Secretary of Defense. Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan praised Panetta for what he called a "clear moral compass."
Sen. Carl Levin: "Throughout his time in public service, Leon Panetta has been guided by a clear moral compass. He has said that, quote, 'In politics there has to be a line beyond which you don't go, the line that marks the difference between right and wrong, what your conscience tells you is right.’ Too often people don’t know where the line is."
Panetta has headed the CIA for the past two years and has led a massive escalation of the use of unarmed drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Speaking on Democracy Now! earlier this year, former senior CIA analyst Ray McGovern said Panetta would cater to congressional and military-industry interests.
Ray McGovern: "He will do at the Pentagon what he did at the CIA, and that is, act as the lawyer for the department, as he was a lawyer for the agency. He did not take hold. He did not lead the agency. Nor will he lead the Defense Department. He’s a — he described himself in his nomination hearings as a creature of the Congress. And so, you can bet on him placating congressional interests and making sure that the military-industrial complex flourishes."
Panetta replaces the outgoing U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who retires at the end of the month.