The Daily Beast is a center-left/RINO news outlet, so for them to kneecap The One this way is nothing short of shocking. So awful that I don’t even know how to excerpt it. Arguably the most damning story to emerge about Obama’s administrative competence since the inauguration.

Remember a few months ago when Panetta wet his pants about some supposed CIA plan to assassinate Al Qaeda leaders that Congress hadn’t been briefed on (but which had been public knowledge since 2002)? Funny thing:

[A]ccording to a half-dozen sources, including several very senior, recently retired CIA officials, clandestine-service officers, and Cabinet-level officials from the Bush administration, the real story is at once more innocent—Panetta was mistaken; no law was broken—and far more troubling: an inexperienced CIA director, unfamiliar with how his vast, complicated agency works, unable to trust senior officials within his own agency, and desperate to keep his hands clean, screwed up.

The Daily Beast has learned that shortly after his electrifying June 24 disclosure, Panetta spoke personally with each of his three predecessors—George Tenet, Porter Goss, and Michael Hayden—and only then realized the mistake he’d made about the program…

Panetta ordered an internal CIA inquiry into the matter, headed by a widely respected senior official. In his private conversations with his three predecessors, Panetta “as much as admitted” to them (in the words of one CIA insider) that he’d misunderstood. Without explicitly apologizing, he assured the men—whom he’d in effect accused of breaking the law—not to worry: The whole thing would quietly go away. He told them that he’d been pre-briefed by the officer conducting the internal inquiry, and that when the report came out it would indeed back them up. It would come swaddled in vague banalities calling for improving communication between the CIA and Congress. And the whole thing would die a quiet death.

But of course it didn’t. The bell couldn’t be unrung…

Panetta’s big mistake has only emboldened those Democrats in Congress who have been pushing to have all CIA debriefings, even the most classified, videotaped, to avoid future ambiguity. As one very former, very senior Bush administration official said to me in annoyance, “You know what? Let’s videotape them all. And when some important covert action gets torpedoed by the those guys on the intelligence committees and then we get hit again, let’s put those tapes up on YouTube for everyone to see who disarmed us. See what they think. It cuts both ways.”

That’s all I’m giving you. To find out about the alleged cover-up, which involves a glorious lie about how the assassination plot was ready to go active even though it never really was, you’ll have to read the whole thing. So egregious is this, in fact, that author Joseph Finder blames this screw-up for the Obama administration’s renewed determination to hold hearings on interrogation policies. Exit quotation: “Not only has Panetta become deeply unpopular within the agency, but, as these recent events demonstrate, Panetta—honorable, decent, savvy—probably wasn’t the best choice after all.”