The text of a letter from CIA Director Leon Panetta to all CIA staff has been released and he is acting like a good boss should. He is telling his team that he has their back and he will fight the mobs looking for some scalps to tack up. In this scrap Obama should cover Panetta's back and tell Holder to find a new hobby.
This is in many ways an old story. The outlines of prior interrogation practices, and many of the details, are public already. The use of enhanced interrogation techniques, begun when our country was responding to the horrors of September 11th, ended in January. For the CIA now, the challenge is not the battles of yesterday, but those of today and tomorrow. It is there that we must work to enhance the safety of our country. That is the job the American people want us to do, and that is my responsibility as the current Director of the CIA......
· The CIA referred allegations of abuse to the Department of Justice for potential prosecution. This Agency made no excuses for behavior, however rare, that went beyond the formal guidelines on counterterrorism. The Department of Justice has had the complete IG report since 2004. Its career prosecutors have examined that document-and other incidents from Iraq and Afghanistan-for legal accountability. They worked carefully and thoroughly, sometimes taking years to decide if prosecution was warranted or not. In one case, the Department obtained a criminal conviction of a CIA contractor. In other instances, after Justice chose not to pursue action in court, the Agency took disciplinary steps of its own.
· The CIA provided the complete, unredacted IG report to the Congress. It was made available to the leadership of the Congressional intelligence committees in 2004 and to the full committees in 2006. All of the material in the document has been subject to Congressional oversight and reviewed for legal accountability.
As Director in 2009, my primary interest-when it comes to a program that no longer exists-is to stand up for those officers who did what their country asked and who followed the legal guidance they were given. That is the President's position, too. The CIA was aggressive over the years in seeking new opinions from the Department of Justice as the legal landscape changed. The Agency sought and received multiple written assurances that its methods were lawful. The CIA has a strong record in terms of following legal guidance and informing the Department of Justice of potentially illegal conduct.
This is a strong stance in support of the men and women who do some of our dirtiest jobs (no offense Mike Rowe) and I commend Panetta for taking it. Now let's see whether national security or politics will triumph.