For decades, the chief U.S. intelligence officer in each country traditionally has been the CIA station chief. Ever since the Office of Director of National Intelligence was created in 2004, the CIA station chief has also served as the eyes and ears for the DNI.

Earlier this year, Blair suggested that, in certain circumstances, he should get to pick the person whom he wants to serve as his eyes and ears abroad, picking among the various agency officials in each country, that often include officials from not just the CIA but the National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, military intelligence and so on.

Panetta didn’t take warmly to the idea, sources tell ABC News.