Comment: CIA Insiders Issue Political Threats Against Obama, Panetta



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?

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

14 Responses to Comment: CIA Insiders Issue Political Threats Against Obama, Panetta

  1. Eric Rambler says:

    The only hysteria is in your reporting, when you translate anonymous reminders and observations as threats. Citing one guy’s view as representative of “overwhelming” sentiment is just lazy writing. There is no institutional consensus about the nomination: some like it, some don’t, but most are hopeful.

  2. intelNews says:

    I agree with you that there is no “institutional consensus” in the CIA about Panetta’s nomination (is there on anything?). Nevertheless, there is no getting away from the fact that the Obama transition team has received minimum cooperation from the Agency (I’ve heard the word “sabotage” used in some informal discussions), as well as numerous “cautionary warnings” (since you disapprove of the term “threats”) in the past. As for “lazy writing”, note that the “overwhelming negative” comment you criticize comes from an eponymous CIA veteran who says he has “already heard from a large number of rank and file within CIA” on Panetta’s nomination. If you still think this is “lazy”, please direct further criticism to him. Thanks for your comment. [JF]

  3. Gary Lytle says:

    I personally don’t think that President elect Obama has a clue of the power within the ranks of the Agency especially the clandstine services of the agency, there is an old saying in the Intelligence gathering business Quote “Things are not always the way they seem”….

  4. intelNews says:

    We can only hope that the new President will not discover the power in the ranks of certain Agency departments when it’s too late –i.e., after some foreign policy fiasco, like JFK did in the Bay of Pigs invasion…. [JF]

  5. Philip DiBlasi says:

    I would consider Obama’s approach thus far as unsound. There can be no doubt that Israel and Meir Dagan must, at the very least, consider the US, under Obama’s leadership, as a risky ally.

    The cost of building global consensus for no other reason other than to improve one’s image among that community, may create avenues for increased clandestine operations to germinate while US is trying to win Europe over again.

  6. Rand 137 says:

    Seeing him struting out in from of the crowd after the nomination, like a Roman Emperor, I can’t help but note the similarities with Hitler in front of his crowds. The old saying of those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it. GOD save this country from what this man has planned for all us. I remember what happened to the last man who wanted to destroy a certain agency……..but then history is certainly not the learned subject of those who voted him into office.

  7. AfterShave says:

    I think it is better for you blog if you steer clear of pro-Obama bias. CIA has reason to worry about this guy – his background check is red-flag. CIA folks are serious folks, and any strong analyst is wary of Obama, a priori. That’s the professional approach. Why not take the same approach, if anything, for your own credibility?

  8. intelNews says:

    Thanks for the warning. Speaking for myself, I will agree that I am biased. I am biased in favor of the US Constitution, which compels all departments and agencies of the US government to accept and submit to the leadership of the nation’s President, who is elected by the people of the United States. This applies to the CIA, whether you like it or not. You are, of course, entitled to your opinion that the “serious folks” of the CIA have “reason to worry” and consider “a priori” the American people’s choice for President “a red-flag”. But then again your belief clearly spells out your bias –and it is not one that favors the US Constitution. [JF]

  9. endodontist says:

    God forbid an official US government agency should be under the control of the elected civilian government. That’s utterly Un-American!

  10. russ says:

    If Obama’s words of hope and change have any meaning (I can hear you laughing) both Langley and the Pentagon will be bulldozed.

  11. Anon Ymous says:

    Obama’s background checkered? Red flag? Are these the birther types on here spouting off? I bet that secret CIA analyst is wondering what the hell a constitution is – he thinks its his resolve to torture people. ;)

  12. All I know is that President Obama has a Court date in Santa Ana, on Oct. 5th 2009 in Federal Court with an Ex-Marine Federal Judge that says President Obama has to reveal His Birth Records to continue Fighting this War or The U.S. Military will go another Direction, also President Obama has another Court Date in Jan of 2010 to Get His SEntence or His Trial dependent on the outcome of the Hearing in Oct, 5th 2009, and Thats going to tell alot of History Stories about Our Choices of Intelligence! How about That! The President and Attourneys were very nervous when they appeared to This Judge to get His Summons to Court! He would still not reveil the records at that Time! V.I.

  13. we will see

    Subject: [USNavyretired] The Obama Trial

    Snagged from another group

    Observations from someone who was in the courtroom Tuesday..

    If the following is a factual account and not just one persons wishful desire to see the case go forward, I would think Dr. Orly has a pretty good chance of seeing this one go to trial.

    Read on………. …..

    Tuesday, September 8, 2009 Update: From a concerned citizen, Mr. Jeff Schwilk, founder, San Diego Minutemen, wrote the following email after having been in the courtroom today:

    The expedited trial has been set for Jan. 26, 2010, just 4 1/2 months from now!

    I and many other concerned veterans and citizens attended the hearing today in Federal Court in Santa Anain the lawsuit against Barack Obama to determine his eligibility to be President and Commander in Chief. About 150 people showed up, almost all in support of the lawsuit to demand that Obama release his birth certificate and other records that he has hidden from the American people.

    Judge David Carter refused to hear Obama’s request for dismissal today, instead setting a hearing date for Oct. 5, since Obama’s attorneys had just filed the motion on Friday. He indicated there was almost no chance that this case would be dismissed. Obama is arguing this lawsuit was filed in the wrong court if you can believe that. I guess Obama would prefer a kangaroo court? instead of a Federal court! Assuming Judge Carter denies Obama’s motion for dismissal, he will likely then order expedited discovery which will force Obama to release his birth certificate in a timely manner (if he has one).

    The judge, who is a former U.S. Marine, repeated several times that this is a very serious case which must be resolved quickly so that the troops know that their Commander in Chief is eligible to hold that position and issue lawful orders to our military in this time of war. He basically said Obama must prove his eligibility to the court! He said Americans deserve to know the truth about their President!

    The two U.S. Attorneys representing Barack Obama tried everything they could to sway the judge that this case was frivolous, but Carter would have none of it and cut them off several times. Obama’s attorneys left the courtroom after about the 90 minute hearing looking defeated and nervous.

    Great day in America for the U.S. Constitution! !! The truth about Barack Obama’s eligibility will be known fairly soon? Judge Carter practically guaranteed it!

    Video from the press conference after the hearing coming soon. Congratulations to plaintiffs attorney Dr. Orly Taitz! She did a great job and won some huge victories today. She was fearless!

  14. dan says:

    The truth is constitutionality has been served. President Obama is an American citizen and the wild fantacies led by the right wing nut cases are what should be thrown out of court. Real in the CIA. Fire the torturers whose use of force is debatable of its use. Fire them all, they still haven’t learned their lesson. And as far as the Kennedy reference? Let’s keep sedition and betrayal out of the contaxt.

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