CIA's new top dog makes Christmas party debut
CIA Director Leon J. Panetta left the CIA’s holiday party Friday night with his latest new staffer: Bravo, his Irish Setter.
"Bravo, an Irish Setter, is an important member of the Panetta family,” said an attendee who insisted on being referred to as “a source close to Panetta.”
“Before taking the helm at the CIA, the Director regularly took Bravo to work at the Panetta Institute. This was Bravo's first week on the job at Langley.”
The source close to Panetta said Bravo “attended meetings, roamed the Director's suite, and made quick friends with many CIA officials.”
Of course, the canine had to be cleared first. The burdensome background investigation evidently took 11 months, about the same time it takes the agency to clear an ordinary recruit, for Bravo to join Panetta at Langley.
“Now that Bravo is part of the CIA family,” the source added with holiday cheer, “that makes him--along with the agency's K-9 corps, which serves at home and overseas--one of the most highly cleared pooches on the planet. And in his first week at the CIA, he's shown he's well trained in the art of discretion."
As long as he gets regular walks, one presumes.
“Several hundred” people attended the party at CIA headquarters, the source said, including former agency directors Michael Hayden, James Woolsey and Stansfield Turner, White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan and Michael Sulick, the recently retired chief of clandestine operations. George Tenet came last year, but not this.
Others among the approved glitterati: Senate Intelligence Committee honcha Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and her putative new counterpart in the House come January, Mike Rogers (R-Mich.); retired longtime CIA and homeland security official Charles E. Allen; and White House spokesman Bill Burton.
The messy WikiLeaks disclosures evidently did not prevent Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, from attending.
The usual passel of spy-beat journos showed up as well, including NBC’s Andrea Mitchell (with her husband former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan), seen simultaneously chatting up Brennan and Panetta; CIA-friendly writers Ron and Pam Kessler; Fox News’s Catherine Herridge (who has a new book on al-Qaeda’s American recruits coming out in June) and her husband JD, an Air Force major; and the New York Daily News’s six-foot-seven, bespoke and bearded James Meek, who towered over the crowd like Osama Bin Laden at a Taliban shura.
Panetta, 71, who mingled in the crowd with his wife, Sylvia, must have had his beloved Irish Setter on his mind from day one at the CIA. On his first day of work, he told top agency officials assembled in his seventh-floor office, "I noticed in the press that they said I'm the oldest director to take charge of the CIA. But I would remind you that the 'Best Dog in Show' this year at the annual Westminster Kennel Club show was a dog that was 10 years old. So, I come here as the best dog in show."
| December 5, 2010; 12:50 PM ET
Categories: Entertainment, Intelligence, Media | Tags: Andrea Mitchell, Bill Burton, Charles E. Allen, James Meek, James Woolsey, John Brennan, Leon J. Panetta, Michael Hayden, Michael Sulick, Rep. Mike Rogers, Ronald Kessler; Catherine Herridge, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Stansfield Turner
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