Panetta’s Legal Authority

by Hans A. von Spakovsky

After CIA director Leon Panetta announced last week that the CIA will pay the legal-defense bills of case officers targeted by Attorney General Eric Holder’s investigation, some questioned whether Panetta has the legal authority to use appropriated agency funds for that purpose. Fortunately, as Ed Meese and I show in a legal analysis just released by the Heritage Foundation, Panetta does indeed have that authority — and he does not have to get the approval of the attorney general in order to exercise it.

In contrast to Eric Holder, Panetta is doing the right thing, not just for the individual CIA employees that will have to endure this witch-hunt, but for U.S. national security. Let’s hope he sticks to his decision and does not give in to any behind-the-scenes pressure to change his position.

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