WASHINGTON — Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Tuesday that President-elect Barack Obama apologized to her for not notifying her ahead of time that Leon Panetta was his pick for CIA director.
His name leaked to the press before Obama informed Feinstein, a California Democrat and incoming Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, who will oversee Panetta's nomination hearing.
"I have been contacted by both President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden, and they have explained to me the reasons why they believe Leon Panetta is the best candidate for CIA Director," she said.
Feinstein complained Monday she had not been told about Panetta and expressed doubts he has the necessary experience.
There was no immediate comment from the Obama team, which has made no formal announcement of the CIA pick.
However, Vice President-elect Joe Biden told reporters at the Capitol that the Obama team made a "mistake" in not consulting with top Senate officials before deciding on Panetta.
Panetta is a congressional and White House veteran with a strong administrative background, but no intelligence-gathering experience.
Biden called Panetta a "strong figure" for the CIA who would "take it on a new path."
© 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.