Comment: CIA Insiders Issue Political Threats Against Obama, Panetta
January 8, 2009 14 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On January 6, I explained that US President Elect Barack Obama’s nomination of Leon Panetta to head the CIA will intensify his ongoing quarrel with the troubled agency. I further stated that the CIA, which is not known for welcoming previous Directors it perceives as outsiders, has already “shown signs of refusing to cooperate with the incoming Administration”. This is now becoming clearer, as numerous CIA sources come forward to sharply denounce Panetta’s nomination and, in some cases, even hurtle political threats at the Obama Administration and its nominee. In one such case, a “former intelligence official” speaking to The Washington Post reminded Obama and Panetta that “many of the people Panetta will be expected to lead [at the CIA] would have participated in implementing [torture-based] interrogation polic[ies]”. Another “former senior official” warned Obama and Panetta to “think twice about pledges they make now [about the handling of terrorism detainees] because they may come back to haunt them in the future if some dire circumstances occur”.
The above were just two of several anonymous “current and former intelligence officials” who spoke to The Washington Post, “express[ing] sharp resentment” over Leon Panetta’s nomination, which “has clearly left a bad taste” at the Agency. Another CIA “senior official” dismissed Panetta’s nomination as a “completely opaque” process that was undertaken by the Obama Administration without any consultation with CIA. Charles “Sam” Faddis is one of the few CIA veterans who actually revealed their name while commenting on Panetta’s nomination. He described the CIA rank-and-file response to Obama’s selection as “overwhelmingly negative”, a view which security correspondent Jeff Stein cited as typical of the overall sentiment at the Agency.
Incidentally, this hysterical reaction by CIA officials comes even though the US President Elect chose to abide by the Agency’s previous warnings not to appoint a Director from the “left flank” of the Democratic Party. Moreover, Obama’s decision to retain virtually all other senior CIA officials who oversaw the institutionalization of torture practices in the past eight years, points to the fact that the incoming Administration has gone out of its way not to antagonize the Agency. One wonders what the CIA’s reaction would have been had Obama chosen to really shake up the Agency, i.e. by appointing a liberal Democrat at its helm and actively cleaning house after firing every senior CIA official that did not go on internal record as trying to stop the systematic use of torture against detainees.
Should we perhaps be wondering what’s next in this widening rift?