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

Panetta urges Agency to 'ignore the noise'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. joe m

    good advice. strangely, people who work in the CIA are more trustworthy than the politicians they work for. the agency doesn't need to do anything about pelosi, she's doing a great job shooting herself in the foot anyway. her aim will eventually improve and she'll do herself in soon enough.

    May 15, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  2. xddy4u

    I beg that Obama come out and address this issue about Pelosi. The REPs using Pelosi as a scapegoat to shield themselves. Why isn't Rice in the News? She was head of Bush's National Security Council, and later Secretary of State. She knew all about this, so why isn't she being sweated by the Media?

    May 15, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  3. Kayla

    The Republicans "rip" and criticize everyone and everything. It's just dumb Newt!

    May 15, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  4. edmund Banks

    It is time for polosi , Reed and the rest of the big liars to leave and lets get on with the job of moving United States forward

    May 15, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  5. lanky shields

    Horay for Leon Panetta. Democrats and republicans have consistently played the blame game with the CIA knowing that because of confidentiality that the agency cannot normally respond without revealing secrets. It took her almost 7 years to come to the conclusion the Bush administration and the CIA were liars. It takes an objective American 2 seconds, the time it takes for her to openher mouth, to recognize that she is a liar.

    Shame on nancy pelosi and all the other democrats and republicans who lie and shift blame to the very people who serve their entire career to protect us. The administration and the democrats overplayed their hand on waterboarding by constantly rubbing the Republicans noses in it. I think they went to far and will be the losers on this.

    May 15, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  6. SLM

    Pelosi lying her brains out (if she had any). This has to throw a monkey wrench into her hell bent crusade to go after Bush. Too bad we can't use those tactics on her, might knock some sense into that empty skull. She really thinks she is going to convince everyone that she is honest and everyone else is lying. Nice try, if she were to claim she was senile, now that might be believable. there can't possibly be anyone out there that would support her. Liberal or not this woman is bad for the country.

    May 15, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  7. Frank, Texas

    The law is the law, or does it only apply to others, or when it is to our interpretation. as he great right-wing question of the '90's , "What part of thou shalt not, do you not understand?"

    May 15, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  8. donttreadonme

    In other words We have a Nation to protect, let them have their political witch hunt at someone else’s expense.
    The dems can't hide the fact that they are infact anti-CIA, anti-military, anti-religion, anti-business and anti- any other group that has any kind of power outside of their own.
    Their actions make them appear to be Al-Qaeda sympathizers.

    May 15, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  9. Geez

    Then the CIA needs to SHUT IT'S MOUTH. Bottom line. The CIA shouldn't even be commenting publicly at all. Just because they are the CIA does not make them credible or trustworthy. We have dirty Police men, we have DIRTY Politicians, we have DIRTY Religious leaders, we have DIRTY, DIRTY. The CIA is not fooling anyone.

    First of all, this is NOT the first time the CIA has been proven to be lacking in integrity and credibility. History has proven this FACT.

    The mere fact that this whole TORTURE SCAM started under the Bush/Cheney regime with Cheney as the Puppet Master of the whole scheme.

    The fact that the Justice Department was played like a sucker by Dick Cheney himself is proof that the CIA was also operating at Cheney's beck and call. When you have a REPUBLICAN CONTROLLED WHITE HOUSE and CONGRESS, YOU LIE, SNEEK and BULLY your way through the LAWS. Dick Cheney had attorney's attempting to re-write laws to suit his political GREED and agenda.

    So if you ask me to bet on Pelosi vs. Cheney/CIA. I'll take Pelosi Door #1 please.

    May 15, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  10. Not The Faux Sniffit, Step Down Boy!

    I think ancy Pelosi is just delightful. I'm not sure why the CIA needs to issue a statement regarding her comments. One need not make a comment if they, in fact, did nothing wrong.

    May 15, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  11. Biff Biffington


    So it's not who ORDERED the crime, or WHY they ordered it, and it's not about who DID the crime. The responsibility really rests with those who HEARD about the crime. Of course, not everyone who heard about the crime is responsible– just the ones who also THOUGHT it was a crime. Anybody who heard about the crime and thought it was just fine is also off the hook.

    Don't you just love American media!

    May 15, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  12. Nancy Pelosi

    I represent that remark.

    May 15, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  13. Logan

    Good for the CIA. It's political brew-ha ha...We know Pelosi knew what was what. Either she was briefed, understood it, and is back pedaling, or she was briefed, and didn't understand it, in which case she is just incompetent.

    May 15, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  14. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Well said and Democrats need to remained focused. The Republicans are up to no good, just ignore them.

    May 15, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  15. Jim in FL

    Yeah, right.

    Ignore the fact that the third-highest ranking public official in the United States has just slandered the reputation of the primary intelligence gathering organization of this country.

    Ignore the fact that Pelosi and members of the Democratic Party really have recently expressed the desire to retroactively prosecute CIA operatives who were conducting interrogations according to guidelines that were in effect at that time.

    Ignore the fact that it was the Democratic Party in the 1970’s who gutted the intelligence capability of the United States by severely restricting the activities of the CIA, therefore compromising national security.

    My youngest son is a decorated Army officer who is considering a career in one of the various security agencies after he leaves the service. Should I advise him to possibly risk his life (again) by working for an intelligence agency so that he may be subjected to persecution or prosecution for doing his job? I don’t think so.

    May 15, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    Panetta, Abu Zubaydah, what's the difference? Two enemies of the truth.

    May 15, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  17. nom deplume, esq.

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

    May 15, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  18. Julie

    Finally a smart man. Just do your job and forget the rest of the political games. Too bad Congress and The Senate (both parties) can't do that.

    May 15, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  19. Carolyn in Memphis Tennessee

    I would be suprised if the CIA didn't tell lies. What Nancy Pelosi is saying is that in those briefings the CIA told her and the others what they wanted to tell them; just like they told the American people a bunch of crap we all know was lies, lies, lies! The real question is, did George Bush tell the CIA to lie or did the CIA take it upon themselves to feed George Bush lies. My money is on Cheney and Goss because George Bush was too stupid to know what was going on. What makes anybody think they would tell the Democrats or Nancy Pelosi the same thing they told the Republican half of the gang of 4 or Congress. Don't assume the CIA doesn't lie; that's what they do. Does the name George Tenant or NSA/Condi Rice ring a bell. Does Valerie Plame or yellow cake ring a bell. This shouldn't be about Nancy Pelosi. I'll take her word anyday over those lieing ...'s

    May 15, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  20. Ken

    If only we could ignore the politicians.

    May 15, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  21. Jimmy the Greek

    Ignore the "noise"?

    The Speaker of the House is calling you a LIAR ... and Leon wants the hard-working folks at the CIA to ignore it?

    OBVIOUSLY Leon doesn't have the stones to stand up to Pelosi. I sincerely hope the CIA fights back and PROVES Nancy is the REAL liar who is scapegoating other to protect her political career.

    Pelosi needs to be impeached!

    May 15, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  22. Becky

    Someone else suggested Democrats give up Pelosi if Republicans give up Rove. Sounds like a good idea. There are some bad apples in both parties. And if you won't give up Rove, any of these others will do: Palin, Cheney, Rush.


    May 15, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  23. RI Moderate

    Sure – Panetta seems to be saying "Nevermind that the 3rd most powerful person in gov't just called us all liars and that POTUS has already stabbed us in the back.."

    May 15, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  24. Rod Johnston

    Nancy Pelosi ought to be investigated regarding her knowledge of torture or, euphemistically, enhanced interrogation right along side of every single Bush administration official that was involved in it. We need to stand up for the rule of law and punish those that broke the law, and they did, even if that means putting an ex president and ex vice president and the current speaker of the house in prison.

    May 15, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  25. Chuck, Tennessee

    To anyone who does not think Pelosi's actions are important: remember, she would become President after V-P Biden. That should scare dems and repubs!

    May 15, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
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