CIA Director Panetta to Arab Americans: ‘I Need You’

By Dschabner

Sep 16, 2009 10:39pm

ABC News Tahman Bradley reports: CIA Director Leon Panetta addressed Arab American and Muslim leaders tonight in Dearborn, Mich.   Panetta told the audience that they can play a big role in helping the CIA protect the country. The city of Dearborn has a large Arab and Muslim population and Panetta’s speech coincided with the Ramadan “night of power,” for Sunni Muslims.  Panetta said the CIA can’t be "a cookie cutter kind of operation.” Instead, he said, the organization must reflect the face of the nation and the face of the world.  “As CIA director I can tell you there’s probably no other organization that stands to benefit more from our nation’s diversity than the CIA,” he said.  “That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m committed to making this agency look like the world that we have to operate in.” Panetta talked about his background as the son of Italian immigrants, and told the audience that his goal is to build a more diverse workforce at the CIA. Panetta said he hopes that one day the minority makeup of the agency will grow to 30 percent of the workforce. Director Panetta touched on the Justice Department’s investigation of allegations that the CIA, under the Bush administration, broke the law in carrying out certain intense interrogation techniques.  “I don’t question the sincerity or the patriotism of those who were trying to respond to the 9/11 attacks. Whether their judgments were right or wrong, the time now has come to move on,” he said.  “For the agency now, our challenge is not the battles of yesterday, it is the battles of today and tomorrow.”Speaking with reporters before the event, Panetta said he never considered resigning over his battle with Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to investigate some agency officials.  Panetta used a big chunk of the time in his remarks to describe what the CIA does.  He explained that the CIA exists to protect America.”And that job, frankly, is the work of all Americans,” Panetta said.  “That’s why I look to welcoming more Arab Americans, Chaldeans Americans, and Muslim Americans to the CIA’s mission.  I need you. The nation needs you.”

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