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Panetta speaks openly about CIA's 'secret' drones

SICILY

Panetta speaks openly on CIA's 'secret' drones

One of the U.S. government's worst-kept secrets is the CIA's program to kill suspected terrorists with armed drones. Everybody knows the CIA does it. The agency refuses to publicly acknowledge the covert program. So ears perked up Friday when Defense Secretary Leon Panetta not once, but twice made cracks about the fleet of Predator drones while visiting troops in Italy and Sicily. Panetta, who served as CIA director prior to becoming Pentagon chief in July, jokingly told an auditorium full of sailors at the U.S. naval base in Naples that he was enjoying his new job because of all the firepower at his disposal. "Obviously I have a hell of a lot more weapons available to me here than I had at the CIA," he said. "Although the Predators aren't bad." At a later stop in Sicily, he made a second reference to the drones.

WASHINGTON

Holder responds on smuggling-gun inquiry

Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday that his testimony to Congress about a controversial gun-smuggling inquiry was truthful and accurate and that Republican discussion of the issue had become "base" and "inflammatory."

In his most forceful criticism of Republicans during his time as attorney general, Holder said that he had said little about the inquiry because the Justice Department's inspector general is investigating it, but that he could not sit idly by while a Republican congressman suggested that law enforcement and government employees be considered accessories to murder.

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., a member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, implied that those responsible for the gun-trafficking operation, called Operation Fast and Furious, were accessories to murder.

Ten Arizona sheriffs slammed the Obama administration over the botched operation that lost track of up to 1,400 weapons sold to suspected straw purchasers for Mexican drug gangs. The sheriffs called for the president to launch an independent investigation and for Attorney General Eric Holder to step down or be fired.

MIAMI

One of 'Cuban Five' spies leaves prison

Cuban spy Rene Gonzalez was freed into the arms of his two daughters, father and brother Friday after serving 13 years in prison for conspiring to spy on exile, military and political targets in South Florida.

Gonzalez, 55, was the first of the so-called Cuban Five convicted in 2001 to be freed. He still faces three years of probation.

Elsewhere

Phoenix: A federal appeals court ruled Friday that Jared Lee Loughner can be returned to a Missouri prison facility where he will undergo more treatment to try to make him mentally fit to stand trial in the Tucson shooting rampage.

Washington: Federal health authorities said Friday that a nationwide outbreak of listeria in Colorado cantaloupes is now responsible for 21 deaths and the number may continue to grow.

WASHINGTON: The U.S. Senate late Thursday approved a resolution apologizing for the nation's past discriminatory laws that targeted Chinese immigrants, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

Times wires

Panetta speaks openly about CIA's 'secret' drones

10/08/11 [Last modified: Saturday, October 8, 2011 12:24am]
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