CIA Director Leon Panetta caused confusion when he suggested Egypt’s president was poised to step down, reinforcing questions about the spy agency’s ability to track unrest in the region.
Amid furious speculation that Hosni Mubarak was preparing to announce his exit in the face of mass protests — which later proved to be wrong — Panetta appeared to endorse the media reports before a congressional committee.
Asked about news accounts that Mubarak about to relinquish power, Panetta said: “I got the same information you did, that there’s a strong likelihood that Mubarak may step down this evening.”
But a US official later had to explain that Panetta was merely referring to media reports and not privileged information from inside the Central Intelligence Agency.
So, let me get this straight: the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the guy in charge of the main electronic and human intelligence apparatus of the world’s mightiest power, one that costs us billions per year, in the midst of a crisis says he has no better source of information than CNN? Really, Leon??
Hey, can I have his job? I can turn on a TV, too, and I bet my analysis will be more accurate.
And think about this: We’ve been Egypt and Mubarak’s patron for 30 years. They returned the promise ring to the Soviets so they could go out with us. They’ve worked with us against Iran, Iraq under Hussein, and al Qaeda. Our military and theirs has a close patron-client relationship.
So what must’ve Mubarak and the government there thought when their patron’s top spy publicly kicks the legs out from under the Egyptian by saying he has information that Hosni will be out by that evening? “News to me?? Is this an order from Washington?” And then to find out that Panetta’s source is nothing more than TV talking heads… Well, I imagine he said something like that famous Strother Martin line from Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid:
“Morons! I’ve got morons on my team!”
Morons. Clowns. Obama administration. There’s a difference?
PS: Just as I’m writing this, word comes that Mubarak is out in what looks like a military coup. As to what comes next… Maybe we should do like Panetta and just turn on the TV.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)