When the Panetta-resigning rumor broke on RedState yesterday, I felt a bit of skepticism, even considering the earlier tales of Leon Panetta threatening to resign as CIA director.
Way back in 2000, I was working at a dot-com when we heard a rumor that Saddam Hussein either had been assassinated or had just experienced an assassination attempt. I went about working the phones, trying to figure out how to check out a story on the other side of the world in a secretive society. I ended up talking to a former intel guy, and he told me that if Hussein had indeed been assassinated, U.S. intelligence, among others, would know from the reaction on the ground — troops moving around, forces being put on alert, various generals maneuvering to ensure they were protected in the power vaccuum. Even if the assassination attempt or assassination were kept secret, the reaction of those who know would make clear something big was happening, as the place would overnight become a beehive of activity.
If Leon Panetta did resign, it could not be kept under wraps for very long; we would see many, many people in and out of the administration responding and reacting, even if they didn’t confirm it or say anything publicly.
I mention all this because of something interesting that Brian Ross said on Bill O’Reilly’s program last night (HT: Erick Erickson):
Ross: They say he has no plans to resign whatsoever, but we’re also told that at least one possible replacement candidate was contacted by the White House and asked ‘would he be in position to take over if necessary?’.
O’Reilly: And who is that?
Ross: I can’t reveal that name.
O’Reilly: Why? Why can’t you reveal the name?
Ross: Because as you know, sometimes we have confidential sources and we’re not prepared to reveal them.
Ross says he’s talking to someone “close to that particular person.”
So perhaps the White House is indeed preparing for a scenario in which Panetta does not remain in his position for much longer . . .