A BLOATED corpse remains, but life and spirit have left the CIA. A troubled agency that can ill afford it has had a very bad week. Attorney General Eric Holder – who before his confirmation hearings told senators he wouldn’t – has appointed a special prosecutor to pursue CIA interrogators who discomforted al-Qaeda bigwigs to get them to talk.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has sided with the director of national intelligence in a dispute with the CIA over who should appoint the top U.S. intelligence officer in each foreign country. Currently, the top officers are CIA station chiefs.
The Obama Administration announced the President has approved the creation of a unit, which would report directly to the National Security Council, to interrogate high-level terror suspects.
The CIA’s terrible week illustrates that CIA Director Leon Panetta has as little clout with the President as he has respect from his subordinates.
According to an ABC News report, Mr. Panetta engaged in a “profanity-laced screaming match” last month over the decision to make public the 2004 CIA Inspector General report on interrogations.
Mr. Panetta lost the respect of most of his troops when he told the House Intelligence Committee in June the CIA had concealed from it a secret program to assassinate al-Qaeda terrorists. This wasn’t true, as Mr. Panetta learned when he belatedly talked to his predecessors. Congress was never briefed on the plan because it was never implemented.
There’s speculation Mr. Panetta will resign in protest or be fired. It may not matter much. The CIA has not been central to intelligence for quite some time.