5. Here's what I know about Panetta (he was my rep)
Panetta is a former Republican who is a "centrist".
His wiki page gives him credit for authoring legislation to create the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary and preventing oil drilling off our coast. I remember it differently...
He was my rep in the 80's when I lived in Santa Cruz (which is part of Monterey Bay). There was a huge push to create that sanctuary, as I remember it the driving force was NOAA. There was a series of regional public comment meetings on the proposals for the sanctuary. I went to the one in Santa Cruz, held at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium.
The presenters gave an overview of the sanctuary, and outlined 3 different choices for sanctuary boundaries. They were mostly about how far from shore the sanctuary would extend, with the two main issues being protecting sensitive habitat and the routes taken by offshore oil tankers. 2 of the 3 routes would have put the sanctuary borders so that they would contain the routes taken by the tankers (spills happen from tankers, they were trying to prevent this from happening). So the tankers would have been pushed further from shore. The 3rd route was placed just inside the tanker routes, so the sanctuary could prevent drilling inside its boundaries but we would receive no further protection from tankers cruising our shores.
There were probably a thousand people in attendance, it was huge, the largest such thing I ever went to. The crowd overwhelmingly supported one of the first two sanctuary boundaries.
Then Panetta's aide (Panetta didn't show up himself) spoke in support of the 3rd choice, where the sanctuary boundaries were drawn just inside the tanker routes to avoid pushing them offshore. He gave no believable explanation for this choice. It was clear they were selling us out, and the aide was literally booed off the stage by an angry crowd, an incredible occurrence that is burned into my brain to this day.
Panetta is also responsible, I think, for the stepped up drone attacks in Pakistan. Those attacks create many more terrorists than they destroy, as many innocent people are wiped from the face of the earth by an unseen attacker from the sky. I can't imagine living in such a circumstance, though I think we'll all experience it someday when armed drones patrol our own skies.
Panetta is no friend of mine, and I have never considered him a Democrat either.