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Too late now: Here's Leon Panetta, former defense secretary and CIA director, publishing the third memoir by a top foreign policy official while Obama is still in office.There's no point in writing a cautious memoir, after all; Panetta's candor matches that of Robert M. Gates, his predecessor as secretary of defense, and he's a good deal franker than former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is presumptively running for president and still has to be nice to people.What makes Panetta's engaging is that it's suffused with the personality of the man himself. Panetta is a scrappy, profane, devout, Italian American, Catholic mensch. Panetta's summa came in 2009, when Obama tapped him for the unlikely role of CIA director. The new president understood that the agency needed a skilled politician to rebuild its standing, and Panetta was an inspired, if surprising, choice. The Pentagon was, as Panetta might say, just too damned big.It's interesting that the two signature CIA directors over the past 30 years have been Panetta and George Tenet – both hot-blooded personalities so different from the archetypal Ivy League WASPs of the agency's founding generation.What has already made news is Panetta's criticism of Obama.
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