According to a report in the Washington Times CIA director-designate Leon Panetta  served as White House chief of staff during the time the Clinton administration accelerated a practice of kidnapping terrorist suspects and sending them to countries with records of torturing prisoners.


Panetta faces questions from Republicans on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about what, if any, role he played in shaping the policy commonly known as “extraordinary” rendition.


The practice involves seizing a terrorist suspect in one country and then transporting him to another without formal judicial proceedings was used under the George H.W. Bush administration.  A former Bush administration official claims that the practice began before the Reagan administration but former Clinton counter terrorism czar Richard Clarke says that it began under Bush.


Yet while the left howls at such practices when Republicans are in office little is said during Democratic administrations.


For example under Clinton, Talaat Fuad Qassim, a leader of al-Gamaa Islamaya, the Egyptian jihadist group led by al Qaeda’s number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri  in the 1990’s was abducted in Bosnia and after being questioned by the Navy was sent to an Egyptian prison.


In 1998 five suspected Albanian terrorists were snatched and sent to Egypt for questioning according to a Human Rights Watch report issued in 2005 leading to accusations of torture by the U.S. State Department and other Human rights groups.


Joanne Mariner, counterterrorism director at Human Rights Watch told the Times that the Clinton policy was in effect torture which former Clinton administration officials vehemently deny, lest they be seen as being no different than the Republicans they vilify for using this procedure.


It is hard to believe that while serving as the White House Chief of Staff that Panetta had no knowledge of the tactics that the Clinton administration was using, but with Democrats firmly in control of the Senate there is no doubt that questions to this effect will be very limited.


In selecting Panetta, Obama had hoped to avoid any controversy surrounding intelligence community tactics that have so riled the left over the last eight years, but his ties to the Clinton years and lack of intelligence experience could severely hamper our efforts to combat terrorism.