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Senate panel gives Panetta OK for CIA post

WASHINGTON — A congressional aide says the Senate Intelligence Committee has given Leon Panetta the thumbs up to head the CIA.

Intelligence Committee spokesman Philip LaVelle says approval came Wednesday during a closed meeting of the committee. Panetta was President Barack Obama's surprise pick to head the intelligence, but the Senate panel approved him without opposition.

Panetta has no direct intelligence-gathering or analysis experience. Obama said he was selected because of his managerial skills and ability to repair the agency's relationship with Congress after the two tumultuous terms of former President George W. Bush.

The full Senate is expected confirm Panetta, possibly as early as later Wednesday.