Senate Confirms Panetta as CIA Chief

By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 12, 2009 9:47 PM CST
Senate Confirms Panetta as CIA Chief
Central Intelligence Agency Director nominee Leon Panetta testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Feb. 6, 2009, before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on his nomination.    (Susan Walsh)

The Senate confirmed Leon Panetta as director of the CIA tonight, placing the nation's top spy agency in the hands of a government veteran valued for his skills as a lawmaker and policy manager rather than an expert at intelligence-gathering and analysis. The Senate approved President Obama's choice on a voice vote.

During two days of confirmation hearings last week, Panetta told senators that the Obama administration would not prosecute CIA officers who participated in harsh interrogations, even if they constituted torture, as long as they did not go beyond their instructions. However, he would not say whether charges would be sought against those who authorized the treatment. (More Leon Panetta stories.)

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