February 6, 2009 -- The CIA should have immediately fired its Algerian station chief station chief in Algiers after two women came forward to accuse him of rape, President Obama's nominee to head the CIA, Leon Panetta, told Congress at his confirmation hearings.
The station chief, Andrew Warren, is under investigation by federal prosecutors but no charges have been filed.
Warren was ordered out of Algeria by the U.S. ambassador, David Pearce, and relieved of duty apparently remains employed by the CIA while the Justice Department investigates the allegations.
"We call that due process," said one CIA official.
An affidavit filed by State Department investigators, alleged, in detail, that Warren drugged and raped two women who came to his CIA-provided home in Algiers for U.S. embassy social events.
Warren has not publicly commented on the allegations, first reported by ABCNews.com's The Blotter.
"The level of behavior involved in this situation," said Panetta, "I think is so onerous that the person should have been terminated. And we have the responsibility, as director of the CIA, to implement that kind of termination."
Mark Zaid, a Washington, DC attorney who has represented many military and intelligence officers, including those from the CIA, said that while Warren is still employed by the CIA, he thinks his "intel career is pretty much finished."
CIA Failed to Inform Congress, Panetta Says
Panetta was also critical of current CIA management for failing to notify Congress of the investigation once it began last October.
"I think that was wrong," said Panetta in answer to a question from Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
Feinstein told Panetta members of the committee "had no formal notification" and first learned of the Warren case from ABC News.
Senator Orin Hatch (R-UT) said it was "pretty pathetic" that Senators had to learn from ABC News, not the CIA, about "gross illegality by a CIA employee serving in a Muslim country."
Hatch asked Panetta whether he considered the case a "significant intelligence matter" which triggers automatic reporting standards to Congress.
"Absolutely," said Panetta. "My understanding is that first information about this actually came to our attention some time back in October. And I think that was the time to have briefed Congress."
A CIA official, Mark Mansfield, director of public affairs, said the agency had no comment on Panetta's testimony or the Warren case.
"I can assure," said Mansfield, "any allegation of impropriety are taken seriously and vigorously followed up on."