May 15th, 2009
02:43 PM ET
5 years ago

Panetta urges Agency to 'ignore the noise'

The CIA Director is urging the workforce to 'ignore the noise.'
The CIA Director is urging the workforce to 'ignore the noise.'

WASHINGTON (CNN) - CIA Director Leon Panetta is urging the agency's employees to "ignore the noise" surrounding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's claim she was misled by the organization on interrogation techniques.

In a memo obtained by CNN, Panetta tells the workforce, "There is a long tradition in Washington of making political hay out of our business. It predates my service with this great institution, and it will be around long after I'm gone."

Full memo after the jump:

Message from the Director: Turning Down the Volume

There is a long tradition in Washington of making political hay out of our business. It predates my service with this great institution, and it will be around long after I'm gone.
But the political debates about interrogation reached a new decibel level yesterday when the CIA was accused of misleading Congress.

Let me be clear: It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress. That is against our laws and our values. As the Agency indicated previously in response to Congressional inquiries, our contemporaneous records from September 2002 indicate that CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing "the enhanced techniques that had been employed." Ultimately, it is up to Congress to evaluate all the evidence and reach its own conclusions about what happened.

My advice-indeed, my direction-to you is straightforward: ignore the noise and stay focused on your mission. We have too much work to do to be distracted from our job of protecting this country.

We are an Agency of high integrity, professionalism, and dedication. Our task is to tell it like it is-even if that's not what people always want to hear. Keep it up. Our national security depends on it.

Leon E. Panetta


Filed under: Leon Panetta • Nancy Pelosi
soundoff (236 Responses)
  1. sham

    panetta just smacked lying peloi

    May 15, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  2. Dear Mr. Holder, Pelosi Cheneys Ace?

    A "Discuss Amongst yourselves" question....

    I wonder if Pelosi was Bush Cheney's Ace in the hole?

    Remember when she kept exclaiming "there will be no move for impeachment"

    She blocked impeachment, not for the sake of the Country, but for the sake of her own skin.....?

    this after their was more motivation to do this in Congress than there had ever been for Clinton,....and yet He (Clinton) was impeached.

    Brilliant....Ace in the hole...or am I way off base here?

    Maybe, maybe....possibly....someone should be FULLY investigated?

    The US has been taken for a huge huge HUGE ride this last 8 years

    May 15, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  3. The guy from jersey

    Nancy im a democrat but my principles, and my country come first and foremost over party your wrong for trying to lie to us, its time for you to step down.

    May 15, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  4. Julia Byrd- Hayden Idaho

    Since when did the CIA start answering to anybody, even the President. These guys are a bunch of hoods, look at their past practice, what was that crap they hired a mafia hitman to take out Fidal Castro. Bush, CIA Cheney were not held accountable for anything, I would bettcha a million bucks, they didn't tell Pelosi crap.

    May 15, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  5. FreeNLovIt

    Finally, someone with a brain. She is the wrong stone to turn over. Remember, during the W era, if you spoke against them, you were antti-American. Why dont we go back and examine how it all started and find out who authorized it at first?

    May 15, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  6. w.l. jones

    Its appears Some people headed ms. Pelosi job did not know his reponsibility when it come to our country security. Said enough.

    May 15, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  7. George

    I don't care for Leon and I clearly didn't and still don't believe he is qualified for this position....however, I do agree fully with this memo he sent. He is clearly right with what he's tactfully stated. What is going on right now is the speaker of the house doing the Potomac (river)two step.

    May 15, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  8. Lisa B in FL

    I think all Americans should follow Mr. Panetta's advice and "ignore the noise" coming from Cheney, Newt, Rush, Hannity, et. al. As time goes on, with each passing day, it becomes more and more apparent that a full investigation or truth commission absolutely is unavoidable. The Amercian people know we were lied to by the Bush administration with their justification for going to war with Iraq. We are now demanding clarification and truth. If it is proved what we already know, it won't be Pelosi who takes the hit. It will be the originators and "deciders" who approved the war crimes that will be held and prosecuted. What the GOP'ers are trying to do to Pelosi is nothing more than distracting, trying to change the focus...which in the past they have done very well..but if they think the American people are not on to their game this time around, they are sadly mistaken. Investigate, probe, investigate and get to the truth, no matter what that may lead to. ENOUGH ALREADY!

    May 15, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  9. Lynda/Minnesota

    Great advice and something the entire country should adhere to. Eventually it is all going to come out, letting the chips fall where they may irregardless of political affiliations. If this means Pelosi goes down with Bush/Cheney, so be it. Pelosi should NOT be pointing fingers until all the truth is out. This goes for the republicans as well. At this point, we citizens have no real knowledge of who knew what when. Most of the comments from the right are all about impeaching Pelosi. If you all agree she should be disciplined, then you must also agree that Bush/Cheney/Rice and all who actually approved of the torture should also be put on trial. You can't have one without the other. Try using some common sense . . .

    May 15, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  10. Mississippi Mike

    So what he's basically saying is, "Let the windbags cover their butts by blaming you to cover up for their lies and shortcomings." Great, what a way to keep morale high. Nancy Pelosi and her enablers need to act like adults and own up to their lies and deception. Pushing it off on people who could ruin you is a terribe idea.

    May 15, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  11. Steve in PA

    I'm a democrat, but I am sorely dissapointed in our congressional leadership. Pelosi really screwed up on this one. Come on Nancy, just tell the truth and stick to it, quit with all the political postureing.

    May 15, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  12. hammeronevet

    The sooner Peosi is voted out as Speaker and even out of the House, the better off our country will be. As a lifelong democrat, it is my opinion that she is a disgrace to her office. She has NO LEADERSHIP SKILLS and NO COMMON SENSE!!

    May 15, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  13. Mac in Denver

    Good for Panetta. Pelosi is living up to the traditions of Congress, particularly recently – - run for cover, even if the cover is a lie.

    May 15, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  14. Tina

    Mr. Panetta,

    Thank you for all the hard work you and the agency have done to keep America saved. The Polosi women need to RESIGN ASAP, she's nothing but the flip flop lier through her teeth. I do not want her to represent the Amerian people, she's nothing but trouble maker and try to gain control power for herself. We're better off with out her.

    Keep ut the good work Mr. Panetta.

    May 15, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  15. Texas Teacher

    Thank you....... the republicans are going to all they can to take the heat off themselves! Don't they always? They lie, the cheat, and generally just wreak havoc wherever they go. And the Media? They treat everyone of their blown out of proportion accusations like they are gospel! I'm sick of them..... 80% of us cannot ALL be WRONG!

    May 15, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  16. Jerome Ackerman

    Now it is for President Obama, after reviewing the evidence, to speak out on this important factual dispute preoccupying the country, either confirming what Director Panetta has said, or what Speaker Pelosi has claimed, so that the country move forward, without such distractions, in dealing with the fierce economic and foreign policy issues the free world faces.

    May 15, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  17. Grrrr-Awful-O

    It's outrageous that to save her own skin, after being caught in a major lie to the American people, Nancy Pelosi is trying to take the CIA down to save her from a fall from grace. That's lower than low. The CIA people were doing their job, in service to their country. And it is apparent that Nancy Pelosi is mainly just in service to herself – and willing to take someone else down (someone who is quite probably very patriot, no less) so that she can get away with breaking the faith with the American people. That's just sad!

    May 15, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  18. single mom

    An open letter to the Speaker of the House:
    Dear Madame Speaker, This would have been a non-issue if, when this mess started or when former VP Cheney called for the memos to be released, IF you had stepped forward and said, "In the aftermath of 9-11, with the very real fear that another attack would soon be launched against the United States, I did not say anything when the CIA briefed senior members of Congress, myself included. As part of the leadership, I put national security first and did not question the interrogation techniques that were out-lined. I still put national security first, but regret not pressing for further information."
    See how simple that would be? And you would have positioned yourself and the Democrats as LEADERS for NATIONAL SECURITY, a title the Republicans claim. Unfortunately, Madame Speaker, you chose the political fall-back of side-step, back-step, deny, deny, issue multiple conflicting statements and then accuse others of deception."

    May 15, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  19. ggarmento

    Congresswoman Pelosi's is either incompetent, in denial, or lying. Since she was briefed by the CIA on the subject of terrorist torture: she did not think to ask, she did not want to know, or was told and is now lying. Pick one.

    May 15, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  20. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    In short, how do you know when a politician is lying?
    His/her lips are moving!

    May 15, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  21. T. Frell

    Go Leon. Tell it like it is... Pelosi looks like an idiot. Why is Congress wasting time fighting the CIA (who are on the front lines protecting the citizens of this country)???

    No wonder Congress has such a dismal approval rating. People like Pelosi are the reason...

    May 15, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  22. Jerome Ackerman

    Insert "can" before "move"

    May 15, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  23. LAW

    Wow, hmmm. Panetta wants the CIA to ignore the noise. I'll bet he does knowing that Pelosi is self-destructing and that he–as a Democrat–is in a tough spot. It will be interesting to see where his loyalities reside. Will he let the CIA (and his country) be trashed via lies from Pelosi, or will he choose to defend the truth?

    Had to laugh as I glanced at the article about Newt and the comments from all the liberals. Right, we all know that Pelosi is a liar, but the liberals response is to attack Newt. How utterly typical.

    The word "pathetic" comes to mind as I consider the lack of integrity among the liberal posters. Talk about bull-headed stupidity.

    May 15, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  24. SVPL

    I like the Director's response, very dependable and respectable thing to do to boost your subordinates moral when politics tends to threaten the organization.

    May 15, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  25. Robin

    If you consider waterboarding as adhering to American morals and values, Mr. Panetta, then I trust Pelosi.

    Why is there such hypocrisy in the system. Just release the documents and let everyone know the truth and stop wasting time on the bickering and start working for the country!

    May 15, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
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