Nominee faces questioning by senators

WASHINGTON (AP) - A Senate panel is taking up the nomination of President Barack Obama's surprising pick to head the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon Panetta.

In choosing Panetta, Obama passed over current and former CIA officials with impressive credentials. The other candidates had either worked in intelligence during the Bush administration's work on policies for interrogation and torture or earlier, during the months leading up to Sept. 11, 2001.

The former California congressman knows the CIA job would mean giving up lucrative seats on boards of directors, as well as consulting work and well-paid speeches.

Panetta is not expected to face major opposition. Obama failed to consult with the committee's new chairwoman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, before going public with the choice. But a hastily arranged phone call involving Obama, Panetta and Vice President Joe Biden smoothed the ruffled feathers.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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