Panetta Sworn in As New CIA Director

By Danny

Feb 19, 2009 5:54pm

ABC News’ Luis Martinez and Teri Finneman report: Sworn in today as the new CIA Director, Leon Panetta pledged that the agency would provide policymakers with "honest" intelligence analysis free from political influence, an apparent critique of how the Bush administration handled intelligence, particularly in the run up to the war with Iraq in 2003. "We have to be honest with presidents, we have to be honest with each other and, most importantly, we have to be honest with the people we serve," Panetta said at a public swearing-in ceremony at CIA headquarters in McLean, Virginia. It was a message also conveyed by Vice-President Joe Biden who administered the oath of office to Panetta. "We expect you to tell us the facts as you know them, wherever they may lead, not what you think we want to hear," Biden said. There was no doubt that Panetta was in agreement saying, "I take this oath with the commitment … that I will provide the very best intelligence, independent judgments not influenced by the politics of the situation, but truly real, objective information that can be presented to the president." Panetta also pledged to work "very closely" with Dennis Blair, the new Director Of National Intelligence (DNI), "to ensure that our intelligence mission is fulfilled in a way that protects this country." Seeking to avoid the turf wars that have plagued the intelligence community since the creation of the DNI’s office,  Panetta said he would work to "ensure ‘that we are not competing with one another, but working as a team to present the best intelligence to the president and others." Panetta, the son of Italian immigrants, said he’s lived the American dream. He compared his new position to his parents’ mission to come to this country to give their children a better life. "In many ways, it’s the mission of the CIA, which is to ensure that people in this country have a better life, a secure life, one in which their national security is protected," Panetta said. He continued:
"I used to always say that, in our democracy, we govern either by leadership or by crisis. If leadership is there, then hopefully we can avoid crisis. But if leadership is not there, then, make no mistake about it, we govern by crisis. And I think too often in this country we have governed largely by crisis," Panetta said. "And today we have the responsibility to exercise leadership and to take the risks associated with leadership to guide this country in the right direction." Panetta said he wants the CIA to be diverse and well-trained, and to "perform our job with integrity and with respect for the laws and for the Constitution that we are all pledged to uphold." Panetta, a former congressman, pledged to restore a "relationship of trust" with lawmakers on Capitol Hill because "they have to be partners in confronting the challenges that we face." Held in the lobby of the agency’s headquarters building, the public ceremony was attended by a Who’s Who of current and former senior intelligence officials like FBI director Robert Mueller and former CIA director Stansfield Turner. Also in attendance was White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, to whom Panetta jokingly said, "I taught him everything he knows." Walking into the lobby, Vice-President Biden received a rousing cheer from the hundreds of CIA employees who had gathered to watch the ceremony.

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