Rich Galen

In the 1967 film "Cool Hand Luke" Strother Martin, playing the warden of a southern prison, tells Luke, played by Paul Newman: "What we have here is … failure to communicate."

That is exactly where the Obama Transition Team finds itself with its latest stumble, this time over the nomination of former Rep. Leon Panetta to be the head of the Central Intelligence Agency.

We have already discussed the matter of "Peso" Bill Richardson having been nominated to be Secretary of Commerce in spite of an on-going Federal Grand Jury investigation into political donations to Richardson entities in return for New Mexico state contracts.

After that embarrassment, ABC News' Jack Tapper reports that Obama staffers felt that Richardson had not been as "forthcoming" as perhaps he should have been about the possibility of trading the title of "Governor of New Mexico" for the title of "Governor of Cell Block E."

And Politico's Jonathan Martin reports that a "Democratic source said Obama's questioners came away empty handed. 'Those guys were pressed for information and they gave nothing,' the source said."

It wasn't lying, the Obama folks seem to be saying, it was merely a … failure to communicate.

Here's a good idea for this or any future transition team. Ask every candidate for every post, no matter how senior, this question: "Is there anything we haven't discussed that you think we should know about?"

Hard on the heels of that, comes the matter of former Rep. Leon Panetta (D-CA) being nominated to head the CIA.

Nothing wrong with Leon Panetta. He never served on the Intelligence Committee when he was a Member of the House, but this has happened before. For example: -- John Deutch (Clinton) came from the Department of Energy.
-- James Woosley (Clinton) had been counsel to the Senate Armed Services Committee. And,
-- George H. W. Bush (Ford) had been Chairman of the Republican National Committee and Envoy to China.

So, a lack of Intelligence experience has not been a disqualifier to run the CIA over the three or four decades.

The issue with Panetta is that Obama announced the nomination without taking the time to inform the incoming Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) that this was about to happen.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at