The Wall Street Journal
February 26, 2009
WASHINGTON — The Central Intelligence Agency’s new director outlined spy policies Wednesday, including an aggressive campaign in Pakistan, that underscored considerable continuity with the Bush administration.
CIA Director Leon Panetta, in his first meeting with reporters, said the agency will continue to carry out drone attacks on militants in Pakistan. He also said that while CIA interrogations will have new limits, President Barack Obama can still use his wartime powers to authorize harsher techniques if necessary.
Among changes under way at the CIA, the agency is now assembling a daily Economic Intelligence Brief to monitor the global economic slowdown’s impact on stability. Argentina, Ecuador and Venezuela are facing “serious problems” that threaten their economic stability, Mr. Panetta said.
Mr. Obama moved quickly to set a date for shutting down the Guantanamo Bay prison and to close the CIA’s detention network, but the changes to spy operations appear to be on the margins. The main change Mr. Panetta has planned, he said, is to establish “a clear set of ground rules” for interrogations and detainee treatment that are “in line with our ideals.”
Mr. Panetta referred to the Predator-drone strikes in Pakistan as “operational efforts,” to avoid discussing them directly. He said they are “probably the most effective weapon we have to try to disrupt al Qaeda right now.” Mr. Obama and National Security Adviser James Jones have strongly endorsed their use, he said.
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