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Obama’s CIA in turmoil; Panetta on the ledge; awaiting document dump

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By Michelle Malkin  •  August 24, 2009 12:05 PM

F-bomb alert!

ABC News reports profanity-laced screaming matches between CIA director Leon Panetta and the White House (via HA Headlines). You might say he’s a bit wee-weed up:

A “profanity-laced screaming match” at the White House involving CIA Director Leon Panetta, and the expected release today of another damning internal investigation, has administration officials worrying about the direction of its newly-appoint intelligence team, current and former senior intelligence officials tell ABC News.com.

Amid reports that Panetta had threatened to quit just seven months after taking over at the spy agency, other insiders tell ABCNews.com that senior White House staff members are already discussing a possible shake-up of top national security officials.

“You can expect a larger than normal turnover in the next year,” a senior adviser to Obama on intelligence matters told ABCNews.com.

…According to intelligence officials, Panetta erupted in a tirade last month during a meeting with a senior White House staff member. Panetta was reportedly upset over plans by Attorney General Eric Holder to open a criminal investigation of allegations that CIA officers broke the law in carrying out certain interrogation techniques that President Obama has termed “torture.”

See pp. 104-106 of Culture of Corruption.

More from ABCNews:

In addition to concerns about the CIA’s reputation and its legal exposure, other White House insiders say Panetta has been frustrated by what he perceives to be less of a role than he was promised in the administration’s intelligence structure. Panetta has reportedly chafed at reporting through the director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, according to the senior adviser who said Blair is equally unhappy with Panetta. “Leon will be leaving,” predicted a former top U.S. intelligence official, citing the conflict with [DNI Dennis] Blair. The former official said Panetta is also “uncomfortable” with some of the operations being carried out by the CIA that he did not know about until he took the job.

Flashback: Panetta on torture in the Washington Monthly.

Once more: So much for the Greatest Transition in World History!

***

Left-wing blogs are buzzing about the White House release later today of an internal CIA report on torture that Panetta fought to limit:

With the Obama administration set later today to release an internal CIA report on torture, director Leon Panetta is preemptively defending his agency, claiming that CIA personnel simply followed the legal guidelines they were given.

In a message to agency employees — but in fact intended for the reporters to whom it was sent moments ago — Panetta called the information contained in the 2004 report “old news.” He pointed out that the CIA referred cases of abuse to DOJ for prosecution. And he noted: “The Agency sought and received multiple written assurances that its methods were lawful.”

And this from the left-wing WaPo “Plum Line” blog:

The CIA today will release the two documents Dick Cheney requested this spring that he claims will prove torture worked.

I’ve also confirmed that the CIA will release a declassified version of the chapter in the CIA Inspector General’s 2004 report that’s widely expected to conclude that there’s no proof torture foiled any attacks.

What this means: The debate over whether torture worked is going to flare up in a big way today — and there may be a strong blast of evidence knocking down Cheney’s claims.

A source familiar with the situation confirmed that the above documents will be released. Over the weekend, news reports said this was “expected.” The two documents Cheney asked for date to 2004 and 2005, one of which may detail what top Al Qaeda official Khalid Muhammad revealed under torture.

The 2004 CIA I.G. report’s chapter on effectiveness, meanwhile, was reported to conclude that “it is difficult to determine conclusively whether interrogations provided information critical to interdicting specific imminent attacks.” The release of the full chapter could tell us lots more along these lines.

The source said the released materials will have some redactions, but we’ll definitely know more by the end of today than we do right now. Gonna get interesting.

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