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. Susan

    Everyone knows Pelosi is lying through her teeth (or her smirk)! I don't think the CIA has anything to worry about. Even her own aide backed up the CIA and not her. I think it is long past time for her to be gone with her lies and comments (that she does not think anyone hears her say) about telling the people what she wants them to hear and then turn around and do the opposite.

    May 15, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  2. terry in fl

    Pelosi is the biggest fool on the hill. Can't we get rid of her?

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

    This is back firing on repukes DOES NOT MATTER WHEN this woman was told the REPUKES are the one behind it ....! They will lose more house and senates 2010 because ythey are fat liars like there leader rush limpballs!

    May 15, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  4. Manuel Rocha

    I just wish people like the wicked witch of the east (Pelosi), admit they screwed up instead of this finger pointing. I thought the goverment was for the people.

    May 15, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  5. Anon

    At least someone gets it

    May 15, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  6. Ottavio Cinelli

    Nancy Pelosi has lost all credibility and must go.

    May 15, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  7. Brenda Morrisey

    Nancy Pelosi should be ashamed of herself. How dare she blame the CIA for HER incompetence. If you are going to be the head of a committee, you sure as heck better know what you're discussing, approving, etc. For her to claim that the CIA lied to her about what waterboarding was is inconceivable. Besides the fact that she isn't believable, regarless of what the CIA may have or may not have told her, she had the absolute obligation to TEACH HERSELF what waterboarding was.

    May 15, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  8. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    Don't be concerned it will not harm you it's just the liberals trying to figure out how to make the best of the web of deceit they laid.

    May 15, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    Well, he's right...and that's pretty much that.

    May 15, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  10. jo

    pelosi she a fem evil

    May 15, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  11. Lexie

    The Republicans have made such fools of themselves.....again!

    May 15, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  12. KayLynn

    Gingrich needs to shut his mouth if he ever expects the GOP to rise again. Dumb moron. GO NANCY!

    May 15, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  13. B MAC

    Don't give PELOSI the satisfaction. the CIA has kept us safe since 9/11.....she's trying to point blame towards the wrong direction. She should take a look in the mirror. PLUS, I think OBAMA wants her gone anyway.

    May 15, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  14. Flash in the Pan

    Pelosi's a disgrace...plain and simple!

    May 15, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  15. Seve

    "She is a trivial politician, viciously using partisanship for the narrowest of purposes, and she dishonors the Congress by her behavior," Gingrich also said in the blistering interview.

    Just the way you used to do it, eh, Newt?

    May 15, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  16. how about some truth for a change.

    Sad that the CIA director has to issue this in response to the house speaker from Congress child-like actions.

    May 15, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  17. Jan

    There are two sides to the CIA.

    Some CIA voiced their very serious concerns to the Bush administration, and the Bush White House asked that all copies of those memos be destroyed.

    The other CIA were ordered by our Courts to preserve video tapes of their actions, and that CIA decided to break the law.

    We need a Truth Commission.

    Bush said, We don't torture."
    Cheney said, "We tortured, but our ends justified the illegal means."

    One wonders if Bush knew what Cheney was doing... and when Bush knew it.
    In fact, the single most important question is probably, What did CHENEY know, and WHEN did he know it?

    Pelosi wants a Truth Commission.
    Cheney doesn't.
    Therefore, I want a Truth Commission.

    May 15, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  18. Tim

    To clarify, anyone who didn't see this coming at the time Obama failed to close the door on this issue, probably voted for Obama. You have to love those politicians who constantly try to have it both ways. For all of those who think Obama is a political genious, compared to you he may be. Maybe you think Obama had this grand plan to oust Pelosi from the beginning. There is no way he is smart enough to forsee this.

    Obama is the next one to get caught up in this, because he has outsourced the decision on what to do in these types of situations to some theoretical being. He has voted present on the issue. He is not willing to acknowledge that he may need to make a tough call. He said he would not use enhanced interogation techniques in any situation, but that he would do what is necessary. How do you reconcile taking these types of methods off the table with doing whatever is necessary? Maybe if you say pretty please with sugar on top, the terrorist will tell us what we want to know. He is either lying now to pacify his base, or he won't have the courage to do what is necessary. You pick, either one is not good.

    This is just heating up, watch for more in the days to come.

    May 15, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  19. Vic of New York

    I don’t know about Leon Panetta, but I do know that any “noise” is being raised by Newt Gingrich and the Republicans once again trying to stone wall an investigations of illegal activities by the Bush Administration.

    Newt Gingrich is the guy who tied up our government for 7 years and wasted nearly a billion dollars investigating whether someone gave Bill Clinton a blow job in the White House.

    This is the Newt Gingrich who himself was keeping an illicit concubine while he was chasing after Clinton and singing the right-wing “holier than thow mantra”!

    To newbies to politics, this is the not first time the Republicans have tried to stonewall a criminal investigation by their party by throwing up a wall of noise. This is the same tactic they used when Nixon turned the Whitehouse into a gang of burglers. And then issued him a pardon. Sound familiar?

    Forget the “noise”. The ONLY real question here is: Did the Whitehouse use illegal torture to try to coerce an Iraqi Politician into a false admission that Hussien was connected with Alchaida?

    By comparison Mr. Rightwing Mouth and Adulterer Grinrich should stop being a treasonous accomplice to high crimes by the Bush Administration.

    May 15, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  20. LIP

    Where will it all end?
    The Democrats want to go after the Republicans because of what they did to Bill Clinton and now is their opportunity except that they will have to take a few of their own down with the Republicans. Can our country really afford to do this to ourselves. Think hard on what it will achieve. We could continue this witch hunt all the way back to the Democrats Kennedy and Johnson and their dirty little war in Vietnam and further yet to Harry Truman and his murder of over 100,000 women and children. They were not military targets, but somehow someone rationalized that killing women and children would stop the war so they did it. If we can accept that, then we can accept a little waterboarding and move forward and stop llistening to the ACLU and all the radical left wing nuts out there.

    May 15, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  21. Denis

    Nancy Pelosi has now been contradicted by two CIA chiefs, her own former staff member, and members of her own party. Her defense is that it was "not her job" to disagree with the briefings, because she had an election to win in the House. Excuse me.... but her job is to represent her constituents, and members of the US House of Representatives as Speaker; and finally the people of the US as a member of the House Intellegence Committee. She has been exposed as purely a political hack and should be replaced as leader of the House of Representatives.

    May 15, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  22. joli in chicago

    Ha! She liked waterboarding in 2002 now she's against it... what a phony pony...

    May 15, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  23. CitizenJane

    Bush/Cheney/Rice and everyone involved are going DOWN . . . if that means taking Pelosi and the entire intelligence commission with them, well so be it. What the past administration has done to this country is so vile that I have a hard time getting past the bile each day. I am sick to death listening to the right tell me just how safe the Bush Administration kept us. Really, you republicans are the biggest group of brainwashed fools this side of hell. Do some research, google, and get off your high horses and become productive citizens instead of mislead idots. There is a whole wealth of information just waiting for you and instead of showing your intelligence, you all repeat ad nausem whatever talking points you hear, never even bothering to research it for truth.

    May 15, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  24. JLS

    Sounds like Leon just put Nancy Pelosi where she belongs. OUT DA DOOR!! He confirmed what the truth was and that is the CIA didn't lie about anything.
    Let's see how much play this story gets on the cable news networks. Can anybody say "Hello Chris Matthews, what's your take on this"??

    May 15, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  25. Casey

    I guess the Republicans have plenty of time on their hands for making political hay - since they aren't coming up with any new solutions for helping our country to get out of this mess that the Republicans got us into over the past 8 years... OR for that matter, they aren't interested in stopping their stupid, expensive and dirty oil wars.

    While I have no doubt that Pelosi and Dems in general are somewhat complicit in at least not stopping waterboarding (and other Dick Cheney fun and games).... I doubt seriously if she aided and abetted torturing...

    I doubt seriously if Cheney would have allowed any Dems to participate –

    But getting back to the Republican so-called "outrage" over whether Pelosi knew or tried to stop waterboarding in the past...

    PUL-EEZE! If you really cared, GOP, then you would have stopped that war criminal Dick "Darth Vader" Cheney.

    What a bunch of hypocrites!

    May 15, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
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