Panetta to Congress: Let Go of the Past

Fighting over defunct Bush-era programs only hurt CIA, chief says
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 2, 2009 12:47 PM CDT
In this Feb. 25, 2009 file photo, CIA Director Leon Panetta speaks with reporters at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.,   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
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(Newser) – It's time for the toxic air of recriminations and mistrust in Washington about the CIA’s post-9/11 intelligence programs to blow over, Leon Panetta writes today in the Washington Post. “I've become increasingly concerned that the focus on the past, especially in Congress, threatens to distract the CIA from its crucial core missions,” the agency chief says. “My agency continues to pay a price for enduring disputes over policies that no longer exist.”

Panetta laments that his June disclosure to Congress of a highly classified program exacerbated tensions rather than building a foundation for greater trust with Congress. “Intelligence can be a valuable weapon, but it is not one we should use on each other,” he writes. “We can learn lessons from the past without getting stuck there. That is what the American people expect. The CIA is ready to do its part. The nation deserves no less.”