CIA’s Panetta swings back
CIA Director Leon Panetta is no stranger to Washington political drama, and he showed on Friday that he wasn’t going to watch from the sidelines while Congress threw stones at his spy agency.
No names were used, but Panetta left no doubt he was responding to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s charge that the CIA misled Congress about interrogation tactics such as waterboarding that were used on terrorism suspects after the Sept. 11 attacks.
In a publicly released note to CIA employees headlined “Turning Down the Volume,” Panetta said the political debate on interrogation “reached a new decibel level yesterday when the CIA was accused of misleading Congress.”
“Let me be clear: It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress. That is against our laws and our values,” said Panetta, a former congressman and President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff.
He had some blunt advice for employees of an agency that has come under increased public scrutiny since the Sept. 11 attacks over Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that were never found and for its handling of terrorism suspects: “Ignore the noise and stay focused on your mission.”
Photo credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (Panetta at swearing-in ceremony at CIA headquarters Feb. 19)