August 26th, 2009

Leon Panetta: how does it feel under the bus?

When Leon Panetta was nominated as head of the CIA, I objected on the grounds of his inexperience in the field of intelligence. The speculation was that Obama chose him for that very reason:

The real problem that seems to have led to the appointment of such a complete outsider was that everyone with any sort of background in intelligence was considered tainted by ties to the supposedly nefarious Bush-era CIA, which approved controversial techniques such as waterboarding.

So Obama decided to throw out the baby (intelligence) with the bathwater (coercive interrogation techniques). To find a CIA head with the properly squeaky clean hands, Obama had to find one with no hands-on experience at all. Panetta fit the bill, since he not only had the requisite lack of background, but he had also been outspoken in his condemnation of all CIA practices that could conjure up any suggestion that they might arguably represent torture.

Now it all makes perfect sense. Given Panetta’s background, Obama and Holder would have had every reason to imagine that he wouldn’t object when they decided to reopen the already-investigated-and-dismissed charges from the Bush administration and see what they could pin on the CIA.

But Panetta appears to have surprised them by defending his agency and crying “foul.” Don’t be too surprised if he quits his post—or is “encouraged” to leave and is then replaced with a more compliant public servant.

In the meantime, we have these observations on the CIA investigation report:

Although often discomfiting reading (one incident involved a power drill), the report also outlines the CIA’s nearly obsessive quest for legal guidance and its intolerance for unauthorized methods as piddling as blowing cigar smoke at detainees.

Consider the fate of the CIA officer who used a gun to frighten Abd al-Nashiri, the alleged mastermind of the USS Cole bombing.

He did it in 2002. The agency immediately called him back to headquarters. He faced an internal accountability board, suffered a reprimand and eventually resigned.

The Justice Department looked into the case because threatening a detainee with “imminent death” is torture, but declined to prosecute.

Proving torture in a court of law is much harder than braying about it on op-ed pages.

The CIA certainly didn’t act like an agency with a guilty conscience. It didn’t try to cover up any abuses, but undertook the inspector general investigation and forwarded the report to Congress and the Justice Department.

In one case, Justice got a conviction against a contractor who — in an obvious crime — beat a detainee to death.

But what possible public interest can be served in reopening murkier cases years after the fact, when the CIA already took internal action and [nonpartisan] career prosecutors already examined them?

Answer? No public interest at all. But Obama and Holder (I don’t for a minute buy the idea that they are really acting at cross-purposes) think there might be a political interest that could be served: theirs.

29 Responses to “Leon Panetta: how does it feel under the bus?”

  1. Scottie Says:

    It’s all about political advantage in Obama’s mind. Specifically, his own political advantage.

    This is kind of like the guy (and everyone knows someone like this) who tries to prop himself up by tearing someone else down, rather than raising himself up by actually accomplishing something.

    Well, this is Obama continuing to attempt to tear down the prior administration as means of making his own presidency look better in contrast.

    I don’t think it’s working.

    And for the record, I’d like to officially suggest that Leon Panetta be nicknamed Leon Piñata!

    There’s just no room left under the bus so we need someplace else for him, and that is the name that keeps ringing in my mind every time I hear about him!


  2. SAB Says:

    Scottie: Or there could be pressed and grilled sandwiches named after him…Leon Panini

  3. Scottie Says:

    Oh, come on now SAB – I like panini! That may not be an association I could stomach long term.

    I much prefer the mental images evoked by a piñata.

    You know, the ones involving a large stick…lol.

  4. SAB Says:

    “You know, the ones involving a large stick…lol.”
    Yes…gird those loins :)

  5. Hattip Says:

    Geez, could it be that Panetta actually has something approaching honor? That somewhere deep inside he put the nation above his party.

    One would like to think so, at any rate.

    One wonders if he say some things over there that changed him for the better.

    Well just a thought.

    (BTW, I agree, I think this whole CIA thing is pretty tin eared. I bet it backfires on him. The “trust level” of the elctorate outside the faithful is not what it once was.

    Seems to me that the Administration is falling apart and is in chaos.

  6. Bill West Says:

    “That is the way of the tyrant: first eliminate enemies, then friends.”

    Alan Furst , from “Dark Star”

  7. Richard Aubrey Says:

    CIA denies the report.
    Question is whether the CIA, or Panetta, or zero, leaked the report for some reason.
    Gutting the CIA means an increased chance of a mass terror attack.
    Did Panetta want to be long gone when the blame hit?
    Is zero showing Panetta how weak his position is?
    Is the CIA jerking both of them around?

  8. huxley Says:

    A few days ago Richard Fernandez of Belmont Club made a comment to his own post in which he said:

    I think what we are witnessing is an attempt to substitute economic and bureaucratic authority for the declining cultural authority [the Left] used to enjoy. The shrillness is the result of the fact that the old soothing whispers no longer work. To the question: “why does Obama keep doubling down?” the answer is ‘because he has no choice.’

    The comment is dense and worth reading. The gist though is that Obama and the Dems realize that their support from the MSM, the academy, and the arts has been exposed, and no longer gives them authority they believe is rightfully theirs, so they are making these increasingly naked power grabs.

  9. bad haikumenter Says:

    Approaching storm
    Launch O blivious high slice
    Blown away: Fore! Left!

  10. Vieux Charles Says:

    “encouraged to leave”

    If I were in Panetta’s shoes I’d just like to see ‘em try. He should stick it out on principle and continue to defend the agents of the CIA; Americans who have sacrificed so much for so little. He’d soon find himself firmly in the “circle of trust”. He’d be a man Obama would learn to fear.

  11. Artfldgr Says:

    He’d be a man Obama would learn to fear.
    Like Beria?

  12. logern Says:

    The CIA certainly didn’t act like an agency with a guilty conscience.

    Destroyed 92 taped interrogations.

  13. davidt Says:

    Now that Kennedy’s death can serve as a distrction from Obama’s ineptitude, will Obama and the Democrats continue to try to distract with the CIA/torture investigations or will they put the witchhunt back on the shelf until they need it again?

    Will Obama’s lionization of the Lyin’ of the Senate give Obama’s polling a boost?

  14. Matthew M Says:

    It’s hard to give a damn about the CIA after watching it undercut an elected man in order to cover for the fact it did not know Saddam’s ass from a whole in the ground. The bitchy infighting of the left-leaning brain trust that composes much of the CIA bureaucracy seriously diminishes its justification for existing. I’m willing to try life without it and rely instead on the Defense Intelligence Agency. After all, if defense of the US and not narcissistic manipulation of tinpot dictators is the goal, then the requisite competency should be spotting missile targets and not working the room at diplomatic soirees.

    BTW, what is the etymology of the phrase “throw under the bus” and did its usage explode solely to describe a certain politician to whom its application is particularly apropos?

  15. harry McHitlerburtonstein Says:

    Logern adamantly wishes to get to the bottom of whether or not murdering thugs have been mistreated. For hevens sakes, these gentlemen were “guests” of our government and should have been treated with every courtesy.

  16. huxley Says:

    It’s hard to give a damn about the CIA after watching it undercut an elected man in order to cover for the fact it did not know Saddam’s ass from a whole in the ground.

    I know the feeling!

  17. Sgt. Mom Says:

    There are so many people underneath that bus now, it must be jacked up on monster-truck wheels and a suspension to put it about six feet off the ground!

    I don’t know where the expression came from either, but I don’t think I heard it used much in reference to a politician or an administration before the current (cough) incumbent.

  18. I R A Darth Aggie Says:

    He’d be a man Obama would learn to fear.
    Like Beria?

    Interesting analogy, but incorrect. Beria was feared because he was ruthless and he was Stalin’s right hand. Once Stalin was no longer in the picture, his enemies gathered, denounced him, removed him from power and eventually had him executed for crimes against the state.

    The better analogy would be J. Edgar Hoover, who survived 7 presidents. Truman, Kennedy and Johnson all thought about removing him from the FBI, but came to think better of it.

  19. Baklava Says:


    As with every leftist accusation there is almost not truth left after the element of truth was twisted into a plate of spaghetti.

    But this one accusation – I could care less if it was true given the political climate the CIA faces. A shrewd bunch of ANTI-AMERICANS yes, I said it leftist freaks who could care less about national security.

    You are with those freaks.

    And I still don’t believe the accusation is true. Why would you have said ONE true statement out of the 100 I’ve seen from you.

  20. Baklava Says:

    In short Logern. You’ve been a liar.

  21. huxley Says:

    Washington is corrupt. Washington has made itself the enemy of the American people is what’s happening.

    Pat Caddell, interviewed by Glenn Beck on Fox News

    Boy, here’s a must-read. Caddell has been a long-time political consultants for Democratic presidential candidates from McGovern to Carter to Hart to Biden and Brown. He still considers himself a Democrat but has broken with the party.

    Caddell believes that the current Democratic Party was mutated from being a party for the Common Man to being “elitist and it believes that it knows best…”

    I’ll have to add Pat Caddell to my list of principled Democrats.

  22. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    Davidt, I think the characterization “The Bert Lahr of the Senate” is more apt.

    tap tap tap…is this thing on?

  23. Ymarsakar Says:

    Neo, I want you to consider that they really aren’t working at cross purposes.

    Instead, I want you to consider that they are working for a political interest of theirs.

    (And No, I wouldn’t misread your post ; )

    I am writing about Obama and Panetta, of course. Wouldn’t it be a good thing, in order to keep the CIA in check and punish leaks, to have their own Golden boy that the CIA could look towards for protection from Obama? Meanwhile, Obama gets Holder to do what he does and pretends they are at cross purposes, that Holder isn’t doing something Obama authorized. Just as Obama pretends that Panetta’s objections were something that surprised Obama.

    Ah, what a web we weave when we first practice deceit. It’s a good learning experience for the ignorant voters of this nation. Learn propaganda, deception, and manipulation. THen maybe you can vote America’s best interests along with your own.

  24. Ymarsakar Says:

    He’d be a man Obama would learn to fear.

    He lacks the requisite ruthlessness and time to create a network. Kennedy had the power, time, influence, and wealth to do so in the Senate, and you can see how much impact he had on crashing America. That’s a man no Republican or Democrat wanted to make an enemy of. COurse he is dead now and that’s God’s gift, which I see as the honest truth.

  25. Ymarsakar Says:

    Btw, the CIA’s attempts against Bush was small fry compared to the de-throned high level FBI figure that illegally ordered searches of Ayers and company’s residences and gave propaganda and insider material to the Watergate reporters.

    Mark Felt. That was a successful operation. One wonders if Nixon even knew about what the FBI were or were not doing, whether he truly understood just how corrupt the FBI was from Hoover’s internal spy rings. Nixon wanted to fight the media. That’s a noble goal. He should have paid more attention to his back, like Sarah Palin should have.

  26. huxley Says:

    Meanwhile, Obama gets Holder to do what he does and pretends they are at cross purposes, that Holder isn’t doing something Obama authorized. Just as Obama pretends that Panetta’s objections were something that surprised Obama.

    Ymarsakar: It’s possible, but given how generally incompetent and overmatched Team Obama is — half of their appointed positions unfulfilled and the rest filled with tax dodgers and Clinton retreads — that hypothesis is a stretch for me.

  27. Nolanimrod Says:

    Like those two desperadoes care about what’s best for the country. Now pull the other one. Call Marc Rich if you have any questions.

  28. Cylar Says:

    I’m still scratching my head over the question of why I should care what happens to these people while in US custody. I’ve heard about enough of this notion that we’re “above” this behavior or that one. Our policies at Gitmo and on the actual battlefields, are handicapping our ability to prosecute these wars.

    Two points:

    A) We’re in the middle of a war – a real one of bombs and bullets, and not just some optional “police action” at that, but in fact a battle for our very survival. Nothing less than a clash of civilizations, really. It’s one of those times in history where the ends are more likely to justify the means. If we lose, then I promise you that those who are squeamish about prisoners’ rights will be the first to be put up against the wall and shot. If they’re lucky.

    B) These are stateless terrorists we are fighting, of a loosely-organized stateless network, not officially uniformed and claimed by any state in particular. The countries from which they hail generally are not signatories to the Geneva Conventions or any other agreement on wartime conduct anyway. The GC’s are almost pointless as it is unlikely the US will be going to war against any of the other signatories.

    C) These men act like animals on the battlefield, not soldiers, disregarding all pretense of civilized behavior or the “rules” which have governed warfare for thousands of years. They hide behind civilians, they store weapons in religious buildings, they blend in with the crowd, they torture their own people as “collaborators,” they indiscriminately attack with car bombs, roadside bombs, mortars, rockets, and suicide bombers. They brutally execute US servicemen and contractors. Soldiers are put in POW camps and interrogated, but they are treated like human beings. Animals, by contrast, are enslaved, beaten, and then executed when their usefulness is at an end.

    I won’t even get started on the absurdity of allowing Korans, prayer rugs, and imams into Gitmo. You think they hand out Bibles to our our men taken captive?

  29. huxley Says:

    Cylar: I hear you.

    I don’t believe anything goes with these non-uniformed combatants. However, I do say the US is behaving with exceptional concern in extraordinary circumstances.

    Consider that the French police massacred 40-200 Algerians demonstrating in Paris in 1961 and kept it covered up until 1998.

    It’s clear to me that Obama and the Democrats are cynically exploiting the situation for their gain and little concern for our country and those who work hard and at considerable risk to keep us all safe.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.


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