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. DaBird

    The article is about Pelose and the CIA. For 50% of you who are ripping Republicans, you are sheep following your savior Obama. Aren't you smart enough to focus on the topic instead of hating Bush and Cheney so much that you are missing the fact Pelosi is a liar? If she goes, she will be replaced with an honest Democrat. Then we all win!

    May 15, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  2. Brad Bienvenu

    Madam Speaker Pelosi is the biggest mistake ever by being elected to her post as Speaker of the House. She should be removed immediately before she does any thing else destructive to this country, like giving all 12 million ileagles our retirement money and medical assistance that they never paid a dime into. She should move to Mexico and run for President. She would probably win.

    Brad Bienvenu

    May 15, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  3. Biff Biffington

    For those who are "appalled" at the speaker for saying she was lied to...

    six words....

    "WMD, It's a slam dunk, Mr. President"

    (former CIA director Bennett)

    May 15, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  4. scott winter haven

    Here's the great thing about Democrats. They are are allowed to lie because the ends always justifies the means. Pelosi is a liar and as usual it is attack the critics and draw comparisons. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. She wants it both ways to serve her purpose. She has made a career on "GEORGE BUSH" and can not afford to be associated with anything that would offend the far left. Sad as usual.

    May 15, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  5. Larry

    to: BOB
    May 15th, 2009 2:54 pm ET

    NANCY PELOSI IS A GREAT LEADER
    -------------------------------
    The Democrats(Nancy Pelosi) stimulus bill: $250,000,000.00 for CONDOMS– it passed.Our grandchildren are going to have to pay for Nancy Pelosi condoms.

    May 15, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  6. NYC REPUB

    Nancy, come out and tell the truth and move on.....we need you as the Speaker to get Obama's agenda through congress!!! All these people have been waiting for you to flip flop, for the longest........Now the right wing wants to make it about you knowing of torture....Yet they don't want the Bush admin blamed for anything.....this is spin to the 3rd degree.....Let this be a lesson to the DEMS.....let Obama lead. He makes wise, and shrewd decisions!!!! He is the one who beat the GOP!!!!

    May 15, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  7. Biff Biffington

    sorry.. that was Tenet...

    George, "its a slam dunk mr. president" Tenet

    to those that are appalled that speaker pelosi called out the cia for lying.

    DEAL WITH IT

    p.s. does this outrage now mean that its a crime and we can now move forward with prosecuting Bush since Pelosi knew too?

    May 15, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  8. Vermonter

    Will you release these records, Leon?

    May 15, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  9. Tulsa

    @nom deplume, esq. May 15th, 2009 3:54 pm ET

    So the Dem political appointee in charge of the CIA doesn't have Pelosi's back? Whatever happened to falling on your sword?
    ++++++++++++++++

    It's called putting Country before Party. Something Republicans know nothing about.

    May 15, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  10. arithmetic is liberal

    Bill ~ Down on the Bayou May 15th, 2009 4:18 pm ET

    Back to the Pelosi woman. Why not treat her to the same scrutiny that you foist upon the persons of Cheney, Rumsfield< Bush , Karl Rove and others. If they are criminal, her name should top the list.

    Refering to the Speaker of the House as "the Pelosi woman" aside...

    Bill, I endorse, nay encourage you to go after Pelosi for torture. I believe that torture is highly immoral far more than I believe in the Hon. Nancy Pelosi.

    I think that we set up a special prosecutor. We should hear exactly what she knew exactly when she knew it and from who. We should subpoena Dennis Hastert (SoH at the time), Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld and find out what they requested the CIA do and how much each of them know.

    We need to set up an independent commission and root out every person who was ever responsible in this country for the maimings and killings done in our name. The political upheaval will be stupendous, and most of the people involved in any international or state affairs between 2001 to 2003 will be put in prison for their direct involvement.

    If you open that pandora's box, then get ready for political blood to be spilled. Republican blood, mostly, because that was the party in power at the time.

    May 15, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  11. Tulsa

    @scott winter haven May 15th, 2009 4:30 pm ET

    Here's the great thing about Democrats. They are are allowed to lie because the ends always justifies the means.
    +++++++++++++++++
    Scott, almost every Dem post here says the same thing, "investigate them all and punish anyone who had anything to do with it."

    Talk about ends justifying the means! Isn't that what this is about? The Bush administration justifying torture?
    Hypocrite.

    May 15, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  12. arithmetic is liberal

    Larry May 15th, 2009 4:30 pm ET

    to: BOB
    May 15th, 2009 2:54 pm ET

    NANCY PELOSI IS A GREAT LEADER
    ——————————————————————————————-
    The Democrats(Nancy Pelosi) stimulus bill: $250,000,000.00 for CONDOMS– it passed.Our grandchildren are going to have to pay for Nancy Pelosi condoms.

    Larry, you missed the memo several months ago that those terrible condoms that seem to give people like you the vapors were removed from the stimulus bill.

    But please – keep up your Puritanical squaking. It goes over so well with those under 55.

    May 15, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  13. Kate in SW Fla

    Bush and Cheney were of the opinion that they had a "Permanent Republican Majority." They NEVER expected to have to be accountable to anyone, let alone Democrats. Would they have mislead Pelosi? Yes, they would have. After all, they mislead the entire COUNTRY. What we need is a thorough investigation, as thorough as the one we had to find out if Bill Clinton got a little on the side. ha Seriously, we need to get a special prosecutor to investigate and stop all this nonsense about calling to release this or that classified documents to bolster a certain argument. Cheney was perfectly willing to out a CIA agent to score a political success. Now it appears as though he may have authorized torture for the same reason, to support his argument that there was a connection between Iraq and 9/11. I do not think Bush knew any more about this than he did about the outing incident. Kind of sad. Anyway, let what is classified, stay classified, with only the prosecutor reading that stuff, then releasing what is needed to document his conclusions – instead of releasing something sensitive to augment political attacks. Not a Bi-partisan investigation – a NON-partisan one. Let's do it, and let's do it now!

    May 15, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  14. CitizenJane

    @DaBird who complains that Bush is being brought into the debate:

    Are you really that ignorant? Explain how Pelosi is more at fault than Bush or Cheney, please?

    May 15, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    Just so everyone is on the same page, I'll break it down objectively:

    Bush, Cheney, et al. accused of (a) ordering the torture of individuals whose human rights they were already violating by holding them in a concentration camp without representation or a fair trial and (b) having their DoJ write tongue-in-cheek memos full of faulty, bad faith legal reasoning pretending to justify it all = GOP denying that torture is a crime against humanity.

    Pelosi accused of being told about the use of torture and not saying anything about it, because she (a) was ordered by the Chief Exec that it was top secret and a matter of national security and would have been prosecuted for revealing it and (b) had no authority or power to stop it = GOP having a collective embellism, climbing on the moral high horse and galloping all over the media outlets decrying her as a criminal (not to mention allowing that horse to defacate all over a rational analysis of the entire matter).

    Get it? Got it? Good.

    May 15, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  16. Proud Member..Party of No

    Karma is an amazing thing. First Pelosi has been chirping about prosecuting "the evil Bush administration" ever since the election. Now it appears that the old bag herself may get the worst end of the deal. Secondly, Leon Panetta is put into a situation where he has to choose whether to defend his agency against the dumbocrat's lies or commit career suicide and side with his old lunatic dumbocrat cronies.

    What a bunch of clowns this administration has turned out to be.

    May 15, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  17. donttreadonme

    You dems have to admit that this is a political witch hunt. Please do you really care what they did to Khalid-Sheik-Muhammad??

    Pelosi is a terrorist sympathizer.

    May 15, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  18. Kate in SW Fla

    Another point I'd like to make is that our former Senator and Governor, Bob Graham, has just recently said something very similar. I am not as familiar with Ms. Pelosi, but I can 100% guarantee that Senator Graham is a very honest and forthright individual. He is no liar, no sir. I think we really do need to look into this now, this is such a serious matter.

    May 15, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  19. arithmetic is liberal

    scott winter haven May 15th, 2009 4:30 pm ET

    She has made a career on "GEORGE BUSH" and can not afford to be associated with anything that would offend the far left. Sad as usual.

    Scott, you're confusing the far left and the moderate left. The moderate left is all right with Pelosi, but the far left has NO love for her because of how she handled the very things that Republicans have apparently just recieved as new information.

    Do you want to know why the approval of Congress at the end of Bush's term was at 16%? It was because there was an equal amount of people on the "far left" who were dead set against Pelosi.

    Well, she's reaping the whirlwind now. Or should I call this a tempest in a teapot?

    May 15, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  20. Tony in Largo

    It is no secret that somewhere between 1970 and 1990 the CIA had to be reigned in by the Congress, with Budget cuts, because it was practically conducting its own foreign policy, which was not in step with the Executive Branch. That is a fact which Newt Gingrich very conveniently is forgetting today when he makes accusations re: Nancy Pelosi not knowing or lying about what the CIA told her or didn't tell her. Newt, that's very convenient, but only you believe that the CIA gives straight answers wehn asked about its operations. In fact even Newt Gingrich doesn't believe it. All he sees is an opportunity to make political hay. Lying in the CIA is a way of life. It is a modus operandi. It has to be because in many respects it is something that they are supposed to implement....in dealing with foreign governments or enemies. The practice, however, becomes a problem when they find it useful and they lie to our politicians, who, in essence, are their managers. I wasn't there when Pelosi and the CIA rep had their conversation, but I'm on the fence leaning very heavily towards believing Nancy Pelosi, given the history of the Agency. Keep up the good work Mrs. Pelosi. You have my vote of confidence. Nice try Newt.

    May 15, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    @ Sniffit Doppleganger, who said "Panetta, Abu Zubaydah, what's the difference? Two enemies of the truth."

    Go ahead: Post something on iReports in support of the GOP using the "sniffit" moniker...I dare you.

    May 15, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  22. Rob

    Pelosi is just a know-nothing whack job lib who is only out for herself. her opinion and her mind changes to whatever best suits her. Now she's caught in a lie that she's only making worse for herselft.

    Nancy Pelosi – Do EVERYONE a favor. Resign your seat, and disappear never to be heard from again.

    We are counting down the days until 2010, when the Dems lose control of Congress, and this idiot of a speaker is out.

    May 15, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    Yes, that's case sensitive.

    May 15, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  24. Matthew

    Pelosi is losing a political game. She was caught in a lie, and much like a child, is doing everything in her power to cover it up. It wouldn't have been such a big deal if she hadn't tried to play hardball politics with those that initiated policies that she 'approved'.

    Also, for those posters who keep bringing up 'republicans' in this discussion about a Pelosi, you are either not reading the article or are politically narrow-minded. Remember, there are two main parties, but neither are 'the bad guys'. Both are generally trying to help the USA whether you agreed with them or not.

    NOTE: the CIA is not a republican agency.

    May 15, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  25. Randolph Carter

    I think we need to get the CIA to investigate which one is the real Sniffit and which one is Sniffit's evil twin. Have a nice day!

    May 15, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
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