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Panetta sworn in as CIA director

Panetta takes over as the agency's 19th director. Vice President Biden says the CIA's actions under the Bush administration had caused the U.S. 'to fall short of its founding principles.'

February 20, 2009|Greg Miller

WASHINGTON — Presiding over the swearing-in of the CIA's new director, Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that the agency's actions under the Bush administration had caused "America to fall short of its founding principles."

Biden's comments were met with a muted response from several hundred employees packed into the agency's marble lobby to see Leon E. Panetta sworn in as the CIA's 19th director.

Panetta also alluded to the controversies that beset the agency during the Bush years, and pledged to provide intelligence "not influenced by the politics of the situation, but real, objective information."

The remarks by Biden and Panetta were the latest in a series of efforts by the Obama administration to call attention to its shift away from the intelligence programs of the last eight years, including the use of harsh interrogation methods and secret CIA prisons.

The two former lawmakers were greeted with booming applause as they arrived for the ceremony at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., and after they concluded their remarks.

Biden was a longtime senator from Delaware, Panetta a onetime congressman from California.

Biden drew laughter from the crowd when he joked about his gaffes during a previous swearing-in ceremony. Turning to Panetta, Biden asked, "Are you ready to have me take a crack at administering this oath?"

Panetta also turned to humor. Spotting White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in the crowd, the new CIA chief and onetime chief of staff to former President Clinton quipped of Emanuel, another onetime Clinton aide: "I taught him everything he knows. On the other hand, if he screws up . . ."

Panetta did not finish the sentence.

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greg.miller@latimes.com

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