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February 10, 2011

Awesome: CIA Director Basing Statements To Congress About Egypt Not On Intelligence But Media Reports

A bad day for the US foreign policy and intelligence communities keeps getting worse.

It turns out that when CIA Director Leon Panetta said to the House Intelligence Committee that there was "a strong likelihood" that Mubarak would quit today, he wasn't basing that on secret intelligence but rather...media speculation.

Within minutes, senior aides to Panetta sought to tamp down the impact, saying he was merely referring to media reports. But by then, the comments had ricocheted around the Internet, underscoring U.S. confusion about events unfolding in Egypt, as well as the perils of publicly weighing in on such developments while serving as director of CIA.

...When Panetta was asked later in the session to clarify his comments, he softened his assessment but did not indicate that he was simply relaying what he had read.

"Let me say, just to make very clear here, that I've received reports that possibly Mubarak might do that," Panetta said, referring to the prospect that Egypt's leader would step down. "We are continuing to monitor the situation. We have not gotten specific word that he, in fact, will do that."

When the CIA Director says "I've received reports" it's reasonable to think he's means something other than, 'I've been watching CNN like you have and here's what I heard".

Of course that wasn't the only breakdown today....

At this same hearing, James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence says an organization which includes the word "Muslim" in its name is "largely secular". His office then has to walk that bit back by saying something even dumber which at least changed the subject.

The President went out and gave a speech more or less celebrating the victory of the anti-government forces in Egypt. One small problem, they didn't win. He was then forced to issue a written statement saying that we really, really hope they win next time and good luck with all of that.

Here's my question....If Panetta was basing his "strong likelihood" of Mubarak resigning language on media conjecture, what was the basis of Obama's remarks in Michigan? Was Panetta passing on his CNN viewing notes to the President as well?

Panetta and Clapper aren't some low level lackeys, they are two of the top intelligence officials in the country and they both beclowned themselves today.

It's a good thing we're not at war or anything serious.


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posted by DrewM. at 11:19 PM

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