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Panetta Hearing, Part Deux: Chambliss vs. Panetta

The hearings are back underway …

Here’s Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), back in full effect. He wants to know about prosecutions for interrogators, which CIA Director-designate Leon Panetta rejected yesterday.

“My view is whether you agree or disagree with the opinions issued by the Attorney General [in the Bush administration] with regard to interrogation methods, the CIA operated according to those views,” he reiterated. “You did your job pursuant to the law as provided by that administration … We’ve got to move forward to deal with the challenges for here on out.” So there’s that.

Now Chambliss asks about Clinton-era National Intelligence Estimates on terrorism, when Panetta was chief of staff. “Were you involved in discussions relative to the issues pointed out in those NIEs?… What preparations or actions” did he take if so relevant to those “significant warnings?”

Panetta says he was only there for one of those NIEs. “Terrorism was one of the major priorities that was identified within the administration. The bombings that took place [in 1993] and the rising threat … became a major focus … Tony Lake and Sandy Berger constantly reminded the president of that,” he said, and talked about Richard Clarke, then the White House counterterrorism czar, doing the same. “I can assure you within the administration there was a great deal of attention to the issue of terrorism.”

And with that Chambliss yields. Weird that he thought he’d trip Panetta up on that. After all, the Clinton administration never received an intelligence product as florid as “Bin Laden Determined To Attack In The U.S.”

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