In a sense, this is pro forma. He’s the new chief, he’s inexperienced, he needs the respect of his agents to be effective, so he has to stick up for them regardless of the partisan considerations. And yet the fact remains that he’s The One’s appointee, which means this is no longer a partisan issue. The GOP says she’s a liar and now, implicitly, so does the White House. Devastating.

CIA Director Leon Panetta challenged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s accusations that the agency lied to her, writing a memo to his agents saying she received nothing but the truth…

Panetta, President Obama’s pick to run the clandestine agency and President Clinton’s former chief of staff, wrote in a memo to CIA employees Friday that “CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing ‘the enhanced techniques that had been employed,'” according to CIA records.

“We are an agency of high integrity, professionalism and dedication,” Panetta said in the memo. “Our task is to tell it like it is — even if that’s not what people always want to hear. Keep it up. Our national security depends on it.”

Remember, Panetta tried to create some wiggle room for her last week when he conspicuously qualified the CIA’s account of the September 2002 briefing by saying it might not be accurate. He must have gotten an earful from his underlings for that, and then, when she repaid him by going on TV yesterday to humiliate the agency, it was the last straw. My only question is where this leaves her and Obama now on torture truth commissions. Paradoxically, the guiltier she looks, the harder it is for her to back away from the idea.

For a sense of what I suspect rank-and-file CIA opinion is like right now, watch this clip with former officer Wayne Simmons. The words “pathological liar” might pop up. Click the image to proceed.