Number one at the CIA - Spear's Magazine

Number one at the CIA

Shooting from the lip is not a quality admired in the leaders of major intelligence agencies

Several past Directors of Central Intelligence have been drawn from outside the intelligence community, and the businessman John McCone is a good example.

Questions now arise about President Obama’s second choice as his nominee for CIA Director because for his declared income from speaking engagements and work for lobbyists.

The fact that some of his fees came from banks such as Wells Fargo and Wachovia, who had just been enriched with federal bail-out funds may not have helped his cause, but his testimony during his confirmation hearing raised many eyebrows.

Panetta, it will be recalled, was President Bill Clunton’s chief of staff during a period when an estimated eighty suspects were the subject of “special rendition”, meaning abduction and removal to a third country for interrogation.

Having agreed that he disapproved of torture as an interrogation technique, Panetta stunned senators when he claimed that the targets of rendition had been subjected to torture after they had been delivered by the CIA to unnamed countries.

Challenged on this extraordinary disclosure, Panetta backtracked, claiming that he was relying on newspaper reports and had no evidence that any CIA prisoners had been tortured in foreign countries. So why did he make the remark in the first place?

Shooting from the lip is not a quality admired in the leaders of major intelligence agencies, and many of those who were willing to give Panetta the benefit of the doubt now doubt the wisdom of his selection. As his supporters point out, at least he paid his taxes!