...If reports of his attempting to block a lawful DoJ investigation of CIA-related crimes are true...
By Brad Friedman on 8/28/2009, 2:55pm PT  

I have come to see very little difference between CIA chief Leon Panetta's reported attempts to intercede in a Dept. of Justice investigation into Bush/Cheney Era war crimes and illegal torture by members of the CIA, and the reported attempts of folks like former Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) and former Congresswoman Heather Wilson (R-NM) to similarly inject themselves into a DoJ investigation (in their case, to force one over phony "voter fraud" allegations and other politically-based investigations of Democrats) leading up to the U.S. Attorney Purge under George W. Bush.

Why should the Director of Intelligence have any say within the DoJ and/or White House administration, over what and who is investigated when crimes have allegedly been carried out?

The fact that he has been attempting to do so --- as reported recently, including as late as today by the New York Times --- seems clearly inappropriate, and should lead to his immediate dismissal or resignation as far as I'm concerned...

Reports the Times today:

In July, Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director, tried to head off the investigation, administration officials said. He sent the C.I.A.’s top lawyer, Stephen W. Preston, to Justice to persuade aides to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to abandon any plans for an inquiry.

It's one thing to argue against the release of certain documents, such as the 2004 CIA Inspector General's report [PDF] on our government's use of torture, or against the release of photographs said to document abuse of detainees, etc., as reported elsewhere previously. I'd disagree with him, but he's in his rights to argue within internal administration deliberations against such things on behalf of his department. It's quite another matter entirely to attempt to stop, or affect in any way, an independent Dept. of Justice investigation into possible crimes. If he's done that, he should be forced to resign.

Am I wrong? If so, why?

By the way, Fox "News" and other wingnut outlets are helping to float the rumor that Panetta may be resigning under protest of the recently-announced lawful DoJ investigation. If he does, great. Let him come out and talk about it and voice his objections publicly. That would be the appropriate way to voice his concern, as opposed to attempts at exploiting his insider status, to skew the wheels of justice. I don't believe he'll do that, but that would be fine by me.

On the other hand, it seems to me he should resign or be fired for his outrageous attempt at obstructing justice if, in fact, the reported allegations of him attempting to do so are actually true. For any Progressive who argued for accountability of Domenici, Wilson, and the others who inappropriately attempted to politicize the Justice Department (Rove, Gonzalez, et al) when they attempted to affect legal investigations one way or another from the inside, to argue differently now in the case of Panetta seems rather hypocritical to me. But perhaps I'm missing something. You'll let me know.

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