The Campaign Spot

Isn’t This a Little Too Much Like Saying, ‘You’re Being Called a Liar, Just Ignore It’?

This is in the ballpark of my earlier question, but not quite a response from Panetta to Pelosi.


CIA Director Leon Panetta says agency records show CIA officers briefed lawmakers truthfully in 2002 on methods of interrogating terrorism suspects, but it is up to Congress to reach its own conclusions about what happened.

Panetta’s message to agency employees came one day after Speaker Nancy Pelosi said bluntly the CIA had misled her and other lawmakers about the use of waterboarding and other harsh techniques seven years ago.

Panetta wrote that the political debates about interrogation “reached a new decibel level” with the charges.

He urged agency employees to “ignore the noise and stay focused on your mission.”

Yes, I concur, let’s have the good guys keep their eyes on the bad guys. But the trust of the organization — both the public’s trust in the Agency, and the trust lawmakers have in the intelligence they are provided to help them make decisions — has just been attacked, in a pretty significant way. I’m not sure “Congress will have to reach its own conclusions” really cuts it. Either the Agency lied, or Pelosi is lying; there’s not much middle ground.

UPDATE: Having seen a bit more of Panetta’s message to agency employees, I think he’s in the right ballpark — CIA employees ought to be able to focus on their jobs, not what the latest back-and-forth on Capitol Hill is — but I would have preferred a more forceful rebuke of the accusations. A Central Intelligence Agency whose information is distrusted is essentially worthless, generating reports and briefings that no one will read, listen to, or consider.

If Pelosi’s accusation is true, then America has a major crisis, in that the people charged with getting lawmakers information are deliberately providing false information and witholding the truth. If Pelosi’s accusation is false, then America has another significant crisis, in that the lawmaker third in line to the presidency is attempting to destroy the CIA’s reputation, for partisan gain.


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