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. Ron

    CIA memos are not enough to convince Democrats that Pelosi lied. The only memos that are of importance are the ones that support the liberal arguments. They don't want to see the memos Cheney wants released, they would rather continue making false accusations with no real evidence while they shift the blame when a Democrat President and a Democrat Speaker of the House lie directly to THEIR FACES on television. That is why I am no longer a Democrat and I urge many of you who vote Democrat to take a step back and look at the actual, real and proven lies told to you by the Democrat politicians. Quit making excuses for them – they are the liars.

    May 15, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  2. panem et circenses

    The speaker has made a very serious charge that needs to be investigated. She has accused the CIA of misleading Congress, and until that is either proven or disproven the agency will function under a cloud of suspicion.

    The career employees at the CIA are justifiably upset and are entitled to have their names and profession cleared if this is just a political stunt by the speaker. And if so, she should be stripped of her leadership role for putting this country in danger by trying to discredit the agency for political cover.

    If, on the other hand, she is correct and the CIA misled congress intentionally there should be similar repercussion there to root out any and all who would fail to uphold their legal and moral obligation to provide full and truthful disclosure to Congress.

    This can of worms is officially open – deal with it now!

    May 15, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  3. shucks

    Our laws and values were tossed out the window by Bush and Cheney. Americans kept quiet because we were being told every day about how unsafe we were. The scare tactics of the Bush administration lead to Americans being complacent when it came to demanding answers or the truth. They lied. Plain and simple, They lied. They were riding on a political high that the attacks of 911 brought about. I only wish Bush and Cheney were not in charge at the time, as someone with common sense and reason would not have jumped into the war in Iraq by decieving the American people. I still feel betrayed by these liars to this day as they destroyed the integrity of America. .

    May 15, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  4. Lucas F. in Scottsdale, AZ

    Pelosi, you're a hypocrite.Don't push prosecution on others when you knew the same stuff they did.

    May 15, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  5. Ken in NC

    The CIA is a covert agency within the government whose objective is to work to maintain the security of the nation. Much of it's work depends on deception and untruths. I expect it to be forth coming and truthful when responding to the government but I also understand that as a covert agency, it may find it easier not to be forth coming and fully truthful due to the nature of it's business.

    Do I think they lied or misled the Speaker of the House? Probably so. It is the nature of the beast, however, the "Nature" is changing and the agency should begin to change with the times. Should hearings be held to bring any wrong doing to light? Maybe but in light of the nature of their business I would think such a hearing should be held behind closed doors and not made public for a period of 50 years when it's release would pose no serious threat to the security of the nation.

    May 15, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  6. CL OT

    Pelosi is toast!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 15, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  7. Carolyn Kasarda

    More deceit from Panetta....the American press needs to dig deep on this one.

    I trust the CIA more than the current administration and it's appointees.

    May 15, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  8. fella from Chicago

    Thank you sir for not pandering to political pressure to tell it otherwise. The CIA, FBI, ATF, state and local law enforcement, and our military is all that' stands between this country's good citizens and the evil that surrounds us in this world. Let the wicked witch of the west destroy herself from her own lies.

    May 15, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  9. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    Americans should trust the CIA 's word over any politician. They take the data they get and give America their best analysis. They have a whole lot more integrity than this or anyother administration or congressional leadreship. No they did not lie about Iraq, they gave thier best estimate from the intel. they could collect with the restrictions the Clintons put on them.

    May 15, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  10. Sherri

    I am not sure why CNN gets so ripped by my fellow liberals as being a mouthpiece for the right. It seems to me that you totally ignored the main point of Panetta's memo...the CIA did not lie to or mislead Congress or Pelosi.

    I am sick to death of lies and liars. We put up with it for 8 years and now my own party expects us to put up with more? NO, A LIAR IS A LIAR REGARDLESS OF PARTY AFFILIATION!!

    GET RID OF HER!

    Is there not an honest person left in DC?

    May 15, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  11. Robert

    Pelosi can't lie – she's a Democrat.

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

    Yes, please CIA, keep doing your job. Keep our country safe, since that is not the intention of Speaker Pelosi or President Obama for that matter.

    Pelosi lied and is lying now.

    May 15, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  13. Susan

    Dems need to sideline Pelosi.

    May 15, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  14. Andy in San Francisco

    Good. Ignore the Democrats is what he is saying and their inability to make difficult decision to keep the U.S. safe.

    May 15, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  15. Ed

    I am a tried and true democrat, but, I have never liked Nancy Pelosi and her disruptive self-serving agenda. I have never believed she has had the best interest of the country on her mind. Now her back stepping and pathetic excuses will probably be her downfall.

    May 15, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  16. alvino

    There has to be a record of all in attendance of the 2002 meeting that has the speaker and the CIA in disagreement. The question to Kip Bond would be, "Were you told that prisoners were being waterboarded and did you object?"

    I am sure that Pelosi was not the one who gave the OK for the Bush Administration to use torture on our prisoners.

    The bottom line is, thanks to Cheney, we cannot move forward until there is an independent investigation. If he could have kept his mouth shut, he could have avoided this mess.

    May 15, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  17. Jones

    Leon Panetta. A good man.

    May 15, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  18. Bitter Republican, party of no I mean one, your table is ready!

    Couldn't have said it better myself.

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

    Bam, right between her freaking eyes:

    CIA Director Leon Panetta challenged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s accusations that the agency lied to her, writing a memo to his agents saying she received nothing but the truth.

    Panetta, President Obama’s pick to run the clandestine agency and President Clinton’s former chief of staff, wrote in a memo to CIA employees Friday that “CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing ‘the enhanced techniques that had been employed,’” We are an agency of high integrity, professionalism and dedication,” Panetta said in the memo. “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.”

    Now the question is whether or not Panetta got Obama’s ok before he let this out. If he backpedals tomorrow, then no he didn’t. If he doesn’t backpedal, then I’m sure Obama is having a hard time containing his glee. Sounds like Nancy started a fight she can’t win.

    — Tim

    May 15, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  20. James

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is so two-faced it's pathetic she even got elected.....by Californians! Look at her on national tv and with any intelligence one can see how phoney she really is. The only reason why she gets what she wants is due to her PMS leadership style. Also, to say she was misled just tells us how clueless she is as House Speaker of this country.....a not so good impression of Democrats leading this country.

    May 15, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  21. Pam

    Nancy Pelosi, Rush Limbough, Nute Gingrich, John Boehner,former V.P.Cheney.Carl Rove.any and all of you who wish to continue this senseless dual to the death..Would you all please take care of the business of the American people! Could and would you please do your jobs that we the people voted you to do! Don't you understand that we as Americans are "Over It". Where is your honestly, integrity and respect for one another? Setting an example for the rest of the world is becoming a real joke. I can't help but think of these words..
    hipocrats, liars, underhanded, selfish,anything and everything that brings out the worst in the human race. Just clean it up, find your humility and get on with the job we elected you to do if you can remember what that is.

    May 15, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  22. Laura, Keene NH

    It is a shame that Leon Panetta was put into this position to begin with!

    Nancy Pelosi should be ashamed of herself blaming the hard working members of the CIA.

    May 15, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  23. Tim

    Kit Bond, while being interviewed on MSNBC, said he's been in briefings and the CIA doesn't brief congress on methods they won't use. The on air staff at MSNBC broke out laughing and shook their heads in agreement.

    Far left MSNBC is now openly mocking Nancy Pelosi. I think I see a rainbow.

    May 15, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  24. WhoCares?

    I'm having a hard time with the CIA actually trying to play victim here and saying "THEY HAVE NEVER MIS-LED CONGRESS".

    What a crock.

    May 15, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  25. Tim

    By the way, anyone who didn't see this coming, probably voted for Obama.

    May 15, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
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