ABC's Jason Ryan reports:
Update: According to a U.S. intelligence official, "The Director was clearly referring to press reports alluded to by Chairman Rogers."
In reference to being asked about press reports that Mubarak may step down, Panetta said. “As you can see, I got the same information you did, that there is a strong likelihood that Mubarak may step down this evening, which would be significant in terms of where the hopefully orderly transition in Egypt takes place.”
Later in the hearing Panetta was asked what the impact would be for Egypt, the region and Israel and said:
“We follow that obviously very closely because of the overall regional impact of what's happening in Egypt. It's something that obviously we have to pay attention to. The ingredients that I talked about that were present in Tunisia and present in Egypt are present in other countries throughout that region, and we’ve got to pay attention to how these factors come into play. Let me say just to make very clear here, that I’ve received reports that possibly Mubarak might do that. We are continuing to monitor the situation. We have not gotten specific word that he, in fact, will do that.”
Original Post at 11:38am: At an ongoing House intelligence committee hearing with the Director of National Intelligence and CIA Director and other top security chiefs the panel was asked about the lead up of intelligence into the events in Tunisia, Egypt and the current situation.
CIA Director Leon Panetta told lawmakers it is likely that Mubarak will step down today.
“I have the same information you do," Panetta told lawmakers. "There is a strong likelihood that Mubarak may step down this evening; which would be significant in terms of where, where the, hopefully, orderly transition in Egypt takes place."
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper defended the U.S. intelligence committee, which he said has been steadfast in monitoring events in the Middle East, but which appeared surprised by the protesters in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen.
Clapper said there is a difference between mysteries and secrets and borrowed a metaphor from Panetta to describe what intelligence work is like.
“It’s like predicting earthquakes in California,” Clapper said.
House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers asked Clapper to grade the intelligence community on Egypt.”
“I’d give the intel a B+ if not an A-,” Clapper said.
- Jason Ryan
Update: This post has been changed to correct the quote regarding Clapper's grade of the Eypt intelligence.