Spy Agency Fiasco

OK, granted that President Barack  Obama's (D) choice of former California representative Leon Panetta (D) to head the CIA was unusual because, unlike many other Obama appointees, he wasn't a tax scofflaw. However Panetta, inexperienced about the realities of spying, speaking before a closed door briefing to Congress, charged the agency he now headed formerly ran a secret--and illegal--assassination program after September 11. Panetta provided juicy, substantial meat to the starving Democratic dogs eager to rip apart President George W. Bush (R) and the CIA. Except, except...the charges weren't true.

Joseph Finder of the Daily Beast has the exclusive details.

• The secret assassination ‘program' wasn't much more than a PowerPoint presentation, a task force and a collection of schemes-it never got off the ground

• Panetta's three immediate predecessors-George Tenet, Porter Goss, and Michael Hayden-have spoken to him, and that he now sees that no laws were broken.

• Panetta has frantically tried to rectify his gaffe, but now faces increased Congressional oversight.

Oh well. Not quite.

But according to a half-dozen sources, including several very senior, recently retired CIA officials, clandestine-service officers, and Cabinet-level officials from the Bush administration, the real story is at once more innocent-Panetta was mistaken; no law was broken-and far more troubling: an inexperienced CIA director, unfamiliar with how his vast, complicated agency works, unable to trust senior officials within his own agency, and desperate to keep his hands clean, screwed up. (snip)

An innocent mistake, but the consequences of his gaffe, which he's unable to admit without damaging his own reputation further, will likely subject U.S. intelligence capabilities to unnecessary and intrusive oversight for years to come.

Meanwhile the real enemies of the U.S. rejoice while plotting more horror; the ability of spy agencies to discover them is further restricted. But maybe Hollywood can make a movie out of it. And Panetta paid his taxes.

hat tip: Lucianne.com