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. Tulsa

    @RealityKing May 15th, 2009 2:50 pm ET
    Surrrre, just ignore being called liars. Like Bush did….
    Funny name for someone who isn't really in any reality.
    You see, Bush WAS a liar. Granted Pelosi is too, but that does not mean that the Bush administration is off the hook.

    May 15, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  2. Billie Byard

    Perhaps Gingrich should reflect back on going into the hospital to tell his wife (during her fight with cancer) that he wanted a divorce.

    There is nothing any lower that a human being could do to another.

    It's odd how Mr. Gingrich forgets things like this.

    May 15, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  3. Tulsa

    @Ron May 15th, 2009 3:11 pm ET

    Ron, have you seen all the memos? What gives you moral highground to judge anyone? I doubt seriously you were ever a Democrat. Or even an American.

    May 15, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  4. Tate

    Cant we just water board pelosi and get the correct answer or will her plastic face melt. I love Democrats, always country first!!!!!!!!

    May 15, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  5. Lowell

    The CIA misled and lied to members of Congress.
    What's sad is that THAT is so easy to believe.

    Are CIA agents not covered under perjury laws when they do that?

    May 15, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  6. Kelby In Houston, TX

    @Conservatives and Republicans

    We could care less about Nancy Pelosi. If she lied, she goes down, no defense, no cover up, no questions asked. As far as we are concerned, TORTURE IS NOT A PARTISAN ISSUE!
    We know that you think we are as vindictive as your side of the isle, WE ARE NOT. We are not trying to accomplish some kind of vendetta. This is not about vengence, this is about justice and there is a reckoning to be had.
    If you think that going after Pelosi is going change anything, please take my word, it will not change anything.

    And Panetta is right, don't listen to the noise, do your job and do it well and for the love of all that's holy, stay out of the news and be safe!

    May 15, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  7. Julia

    The memo is quite neutral and its message, correctly, seems to be focused on maintaining morale at the CIA and to keep these people on point. Panetta is doing exactly what a good leader should do. As to Speaker Pelosi: at this point, I believe she has been too fowarded with her commnets. To use the term "misleading" can be hurtful if it is not clarified. If her position is that she felt she was not aware of what the term "enhanced technique" would mean as it was to be used on this person, or if she misunderstood, or if she, quite simply didn't understand or worse, was not paying strict attention and simply mentally shelved this briefing, she should say so. Newt Grnich needs to keep his mouth shut. He is not an elected member of our government. Neither is FORMER Vice President Cheney. What has to happen is the Speaker must not challenge the question of what she knew if she's not sure what the briefing was about or how much she understood. While we can all agree 2002 is a while ago and it is pre-war, at the end of the day, I must say that I would recall having been told whether some unusual technique was to be used on another human being especially since this was just post-9/11 and security was extremely heightened. The Speaker should go back through the memos carefully and seek counsel before she comments again.

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

    Didn't Pelosi ask for the full transcript to be released?

    Doesn't sound like she's trying to hide anything by that. Let's see it, then decide. If she lied, fine, she's toast. Same goes for anyone else who had prior knowledge of the torture that was used. REGARDLES OF PARTY.

    FIRST though, let's not lose sight of what the point is.


    That has been proven. Now let's clean up the mess, get those reponsible prosecuted and get back to business.

    May 15, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  9. Matt

    He forgot to mention..."and don't worry about Pelosi, we're going to nail her to the wall."

    May 15, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  10. John DeMartino

    Mrs. Pelosi has to remember who she is working for. She appears to be very self serving. Very interested in herself, and an unable to work accross the isle. Its to bad this is what politics have come to. The time may be right to clean house of all the life time politicans.

    May 15, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  11. Nini


    Is this the best the director of CIA could do?

    I can’t even imagine how low the moral must be at the CIA, their boss just through them under the bus.

    These are the people on the front lines, sacrificing their lives.

    The speaker of the house calls them liars and the boss says ignore it !!!!!!

    Pelosi should RESIGN.

    May 15, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  12. Julia Byrd- Hayden Idaho

    We do not need the CIA, the FBI refused to have anything to do with torture, Get rid of the CIA, keep the FBI, fire Panetta, get a real cop in there, restore democracy and our credibility in the world. This will save money, restore honor to our country.

    May 15, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  13. Bob


    She has my full support and the support of many Rational and Sensible people.

    Republican Party is all done, they have an Insane leader Rush Limbaugh.

    More than 4200 US Troops have died and 46,000 US Troops have suffered injuries in Iraq war.

    None of the 9/11 terrorists were from Iraq. Iraq was attacked for Bush’s greed for Oil. Intelligence report that Iraq has WMDs was false and specially designed to mislead Americans for getting their support to go to war. Bush admitted this in his farewell address that Iraq intelligence report was a mistake.

    Terrorists don’t attack us from other Countries. They come here inside our Country, infiltrate and attack us. Other countries will not let terrorists use their soil as a launching pad to attack U.S., because it will amount to direct war with US. No County wants to mess with a Super Power like U.S.

    Going after terrorist in other countries is more expensive and puts out troops on harms way. Our economy is in shambles due to the 2 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Countries affected by terrorism are in poverty. Where do terrorists get these sophisticated weapons to fight U.S. troops. Definitely some other industrially advanced country is providing these terrorists with weapons and money.

    Our intelligence network should be emphasizing more on this. Unfortunately in the past 8 years intelligence agencies were fabricating false intelligence reports at the direction of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.

    May 15, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  14. Bill ~ Down on the Bayou

    I am nt or have i ever been a fan of that Panetta person but it was about time someonf found the courage to stand up to the Pelosi woman. She is treacherous, sje is not what we need today as the person third in line for the presidency should some tragedy befall the others. That could happen, obama and Biden out eating in a Burgerking, pure stupidity.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.

    May 15, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  15. Biff Biffington

    Come on CNN.... please let this truth be know. Please.

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    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 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  16. CitizenJane

    @Fair is Fair who says ". . .if Pelosi lied, take approriate actions. . ."

    No doubt your wisdom applies to Bush/Cheney as well?

    May 15, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  17. Pelosi don't blink

    Gotta love the responses from the individuals who are so in love with the Liberals they can't admit when one of their own lies, always try to turn it around. What Liberal could possibly stand up for Pelosi? There is nothing about this woman that should be supported. Todays Liberal means losing the ability to think for yourself and earn your own living, you need someone to take care of you and make your decisions for you. Nancy loves to be every ones mother.

    May 15, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  18. Carl Justus

    The Bush administration said the CIA had definite proof that Iraq had nuclear weapons too. Now who are you going to believe the CIA which we know is lying or either the Bush administration was lying and that included Colin Powell or are you to believe Pelosi.

    I think I will go with Pelosi until the CIA releases the information that will clear the air and show that Pelosi really was aware the CIA and the Bush Administration was using waterboarding at the time she was informed.

    I will not hold my breath until the CIA releases the information. They never will and the accusations goes on.

    How would Gringrich know anything about what was given to Pelosi anyway for he had resigned under when it became known that he was cheating on his wife with his employee and then accusing Clinton of improper sexual contact with Lewinsky.

    May 15, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  19. Gary

    Bottom line: Clinton sent terrorist to be brutally tortured in other countries (Egypt etc) and Bush authorized some borderline torture with terrorists after 9/11. Both Republicans and Democrats (including Nancy Pelosi) in congress have been briefed have had full knowledge of all these actiivities. The Bush administration kept us safe after 9/11 and I'm okay just letting this who issue drop. And even though it is clear that Nancy Pelosi is a lier and wrongly accused the CIA, I"m willing to let that drop too. Let's all get back to work on winning the war on terror and fixing the economy.

    May 15, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  20. Great

    why would the CIA lie? The Obama administration has already said they arent going to prosecute the CIA officials, so there's no need for them to lie about her knowing or not knowing. You people were all about holding people responsible but now you only want to hold half of them responsible and let the other half go because they include pelosi?

    May 15, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  21. arithmetic is liberal

    Frank, Texas May 15th, 2009 3:47 pm ET

    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?"

    Since we are NOT a Christian Nation (sounds like the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to me) and since "thou shalt not" is not found in a single line of the Constitution, and since we've already hashed this out a decade ago and found that exhalting one religion over another in this country is not only illegal by the law of the land but also morally reprehensible to a people who believe in the rights and freedoms of all, then do we really need to go back there? Really? to Thou shalt not?

    I guess if it doesn't fit on a bumper sticker, it doesn't fit into the Republican Party.

    May 15, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  22. Just a Mom

    If Pelosi resigns, Obama will be lost. No one pulling his strings anymore! That could be a good thing!

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

    Bill on the Bayou wrote: Why not treat her to the same scrutiny that you foist upon the persons of Cheney, Rumsfield< Bush , Karl Rove and others

    Because, Bill, she didn't think it up and then order it, fully knowing that it was wrong. Don't try to be clever when you really aren't. Have a nice day!

    May 15, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  24. jc

    As has been said several times,

    Pelosi is either incompetent or a liar. Either way, the Democrats need to do something about her.

    I am glad the CIA is taking the high road. Pelosi should probably just let it die because everytime someone (Dem or Repub) attacks the CIA they end up getting burnt. Though I think in her case, she has probably already done too much damage. Can't California find another legitimate Democrat to run against her in 2010?

    May 15, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  25. 2pacolypse Now

    Time to go Pelosi. You've basically lied to the American people's face and it's time for you to go. Obama doesn't need to defend you or stand up for you because you've dug your own grave on this one. They need to just investigate this and find out who else was briefed that Bush/Cheney authorized torture.

    May 15, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
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