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Panetta may be just like Gates

The current Director of the CIA and former Congressman is set for Senate approval, but some insiders believe the confirmation hearing of Leon Panetta as the new Pentagon chief could highlight plans to rein in federal military spending.

Defense-industry officials, lobbyists and Congressional aides and Washington insiders have all predicted Panetta will either accelerate or possibly increase US military and Pentagon spending cuts over the next 10 years.

Current Defense Secretary Robert Gates has stuck up for stable military spending. Panetta on the hand comes from a background of cutting waste and decreasing spending.

Those weary of defense cuts are worried Panetta's background as Clinton's budget director added to the anti-spending climate in Congress could lead to large program cuts. ‘

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern explained many activists had great hopes for Panetta and his reform ideas to make the CIA more open and transparent, but in the end he continued much of the status quo.

This has some worried that Panetta will not make enough changes at the Pentagon.

“If you’re looking for him to cut real spending from the defense budget, I’d say look very carefully. There’s lots of fat there, he’ll probably be able to cut some but he will not do anything to alienate the affections of his former colleagues in Congress,” McGovern said.

He explained that Panetta is a ‘man of congress’ and likely to make policy that keeps the mainstream happy, as opposed to issuing massive cuts and changing the funding of US programs.

I see no difference between him and Robert Gates,” noted McGovern.