Nor, apparently, did he rush home to Langley at word that seven of his agents had been assassinated by a jihadist double agent on December 30. Question: If you were a political appointee whose credibility at the agency you’re in charge of was in question, wouldn’t you want to go the extra mile to show unity with your underlings at a moment of crisis?

I guess not.

A source told CBS News that Leon Panetta, director of the CIA, was on holiday in Monterey, Calif. when Abdulmutallab was apprehended, and didn’t return to CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. until the weekend following Jan. 1.

The CIA maintained that Panetta’s absence from Langley was not a problem. “While we don’t comment on the Director’s whereabouts, wherever he is—and at every moment of every day—he has the ability to communicate instantly and securely with anyone he needs to be in touch with,” a CIA spokesman said.

In addition, Stephen Kappes, CIA deputy director, reportedly didn’t see the need to return to CIA headquarters from his vacation despite the major intelligence community failure. He returned to Washington, D.C. just after the Khost bombing on Dec. 30 that killed seven CIA officers.

Between this guy, Napolitano, Geithner, and Holder, it’s getting awfully hard to predict which cabinet member’s going to be the first under the Hopenchange bus. (Smart money’s on TurboTax Tim.) In fairness to Panetta, he’s had his successes lately too: By Al Qaeda’s own admission, one of its tippy-top-most military commanders met the business end of an American missile mere days before the CIA base bombing. Nor, for all its sloppiness in failing to isolate the bomber, has the CIA had any publicly known intel lapses as great as this one. Read it and weep:

According to [a] still-classified report, the terrorism task force responsible for determining whether [Nidal] Hasan posed a threat never saw all 18 e-mails he exchanged with that radical Yemeni cleric Awlaki whose communications were being monitored under a court ordered wiretap….

None of the e-mails specifically mentioned Hasan’s plans for a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, but because he was a member of the military the FBI showed them to a Pentagon investigator with the note “comm” written on it. To the FBI that meant “commissioned officer.” The Pentagon investigator thought it meant “communication.”

The Hasan story is almost cold now and Flight 253 is starting to wind down after today’s presser from The One, but the CIA base bombing is just heating up. Read this. And try to act surprised.