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Panetta on the Petraeus Affair: 'I’m Reading the Papers Like You Are'

5:57 PM, Nov 12, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Defense Secretary Leon Panetta seemed not to have extensive knowledge of the Petraeus affair when talking to the press earlier today on board a flight to Australia. 

Panetta Leon

"You know, I don’t know the answer to that," Panetta said in response to a question about when the affair started and whether the CIA director would be prosecuted. "I guess, I’m reading the papers like you are to determine just what the committees finds out, what the ultimate investigation determines on that issue. We obviously are going to watch this closely to determine just exactly when that took place. But I think right now my view is lets see what the investigation turns up and what the congress, these committees are able to determine just exactly what took place."

Panetta, who served as CIA director before Petraeus, called the affair "a very sad situation."

"First, obviously, it was a very sad situation to have a distinguished career like that end in this manner. And my heart obviously goes out to him and his family, but I think he took the right step and I think its important when you’re director of the CIA with all the challenges that face you in that position, that personal integrity comes first and foremost.," said Panetta.

"With regards to the future, you know, having served there the first 2 years of this administration, I think its really important to continue to have the CIA stay on track doing the job that is absolutely essential to our national security. They have very important mission focused on intelligence and intelligence operations and I think it’s very important to get someone strong and capable and dedicated to be able to continue that effort. This is a critical time to make sure that with all the threats that we’re dealing with in the world, that we maintain a strong intelligence operation."

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