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CIA director nominee Panetta pledges agency will 'perform according to law'

[JURIST] Nominee for director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] Leon Panetta [profile] testified [testimony, PDF; materials] Thursday before the US Senate Intelligence Committee [official website] that he would perform his duties according to the law while upholding the Constitution. Panetta said:

I believe the Director should be responsible for shaping the role of CIA in the twenty-first century to protect this nation, to provide credible and accurate intelligence to policy makers, to undertake those missions that will enhance our security, and to always perform our responsibilities according to the law and our Constitution.
Panetta also promised to build a strong relationship between the CIA and Congress. After several hours of questioning, the committee recessed and will reconvene Friday morning at 10:00 AM.

President Barack Obama [official profile] nominated [JURIST report] Panetta to lead the CIA last month. Panetta has served as a Congressman, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) [official website] Director, and White House Chief of Staff. Panetta will replace current CIA director Michael Hayden [JURIST news archive], who has agreed to stay on [press release] and cooperate fully until the transition is complete. Last month, Admiral Dennis Blair, nominated [press release] by Obama for Director of National Intelligence, stressed his respect for civil liberties and lawfulness [JURIST report] in intelligence investigations during testimony [text, PDF] before the Intelligence Committee.

4:45 PM ET - In questioning late this afternoon, Panetta said that the CIA will not conduct [AP report] the same type of extraordinary rendition [JURIST news archive] seen under the Bush administration. Panetta also testified that he does not believe interrogators should be prosecuted for harsh interrogation techniques used during the Bush administration and that he is open to using more aggressive interrogation techniques [NYT report] than those previously authorized by Obama.

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