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The Obama Justice Dept’s war on the CIA

ABC News reports [1] that CIA director Leon Panetta recently had a “shouting match” with the WH over the Justice Department’s plans to investigate CIA agents for “interrogation techniques that President Obama has termed “torture”:

A “profanity-laced screaming match” at the White House involving CIA Director Leon Panetta, and the expected release today of another damning internal investigation, has administration officials worrying about the direction of its newly-appoint intelligence team, current and former senior intelligence officials tell ABC News.com.

Amid reports that Panetta had threatened to quit just seven months after taking over at the spy agency, other insiders tell ABCNews.com that senior White House staff members are already discussing a possible shake-up of top national security officials.

“You can expect a larger than normal turnover in the next year,” a senior adviser to Obama on intelligence matters told ABCNews.com.

Since 9/11, the CIA has had five directors or acting directors.

A White House spokesperson, Denis McDonough, said reports that Panetta had threatened to quit and that the White House was seeking a replacement were “inaccurate.”

According to intelligence officials, Panetta erupted in a tirade last month during a meeting with a senior White House staff member. Panetta was reportedly upset over plans by Attorney General Eric Holder to open a criminal investigation of allegations that CIA officers broke the law in carrying out certain interrogation techniques that President Obama has termed “torture.”

Very relevant to this news is today’s gleeful report [2] from the NYT on Holder’s plans for investigations:

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s ethics office has recommended reversing the Bush administration and reopening nearly a dozen prisoner-abuse cases, potentially exposing Central Intelligence Agency employees and contractors to prosecution for brutal treatment of terrorism suspects, according to a person officially briefed on the matter.

Ahem, NYT – that should have been alleged “brutal treatment of terrorism suspects.”

Rumor has it that later today the WH may be releasing a few CIA documents that relate to Cheney’s release request from earlier this year in which he was attempting to prove that the aggressive interrogation techniques authorized for use during the Bush admin worked. Supposedly other documents will be released that suggest (at least to the Obama WH, anyway) that they did not. Michelle Malkin is keeping track of developments here [3].

And lastly, the WaPo reports [4] on a new “interrogation unit” the WH has set up to interrogate terrorist suspects:

President Obama has approved the creation of an elite team of interrogators to question key terrorism suspects, part of a broader effort to revamp U.S. policy on detention and interrogation, senior administration officials said Sunday.

Obama signed off late last week on the unit, named the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, or HIG. Made up of experts from several intelligence and law enforcement agencies, the interrogation unit will be housed at the FBI but will be overseen by the National Security Council — shifting the center of gravity away from the CIA and giving the White House direct oversight.

Rachel Abrams responds [5]:

The interrogation-authority-grab by the Obama White House could send shockwaves through the Bush-mind-control-conspiracy-theory community, and sting the New York Times as a lover’s betrayal. But oh, happy, happy day for jihadist murderers the world over who may chance to hear from Samantha Power’s own lovely lips: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights?”

I feel so much safer now.