Leon Panetta was sworn in Friday morning at CIA headquarters to assume his powers as the agency's 19th director.
Panetta was sworn by CIA Deputy Director Stephen Kappes.
In a message sent to CIA employees, Panetta wrote, "When President Obama asked if I would accept this assignment, he said he wanted someone he could trust, who was independent, and who would call them as he sees them. Throughout my 40-year career in government, I have made it a point to speak honestly to my colleagues, my coworkers, my constituents, and my president. I hope that we can speak honestly to each other and to those we serve."
The new director also emphasized that Kappes, a CIA veteran, has agreed to stay at the agency as the deputy.
"In making decisions, I will count on the expertise of CIA professionals, starting with Steve Kappes, who has agreed to continue as deputy director. He embodies the agency spirit of service before self. That clear and noble principle must guide the actions all of us take, from the seventh floor to the smallest, most distant base," Panetta noted in the message sent to CIA employees.
Kappes left the agency during the turbulent tenure of former CIA Director Porter Goss, who rankled some career officers by moving in officials from his congressional offices to the agency. Kappes returned to the CIA in July 2006.
In his message to employees, Panetta reminded them of their duty and mission at an agency that has been through much since 9/11, including controversies over Iraq WMD intelligence and detainee interrogations.
"At its best, intelligence gives our government the clearest possible picture of the world as it is," he said. "At its heart, intelligence is the solid base on which our country acts to build the world as it should be. It is a profession of risk, of courage, and of integrity. It is a calling for the dedicated, those who find reward not in public acclaim, but in silent duty."
According to one official, Panetta, who is 70, joked at the swearing in ceremony that he is now the oldest director to take over the helm of the CIA and that he was pleased to see an older dog win the Westminster dog show earlier this week.
A ceremonial swearing in will take place sometime later next week. Details on that event may be coordinated by the White House.