Petraeus confirmed as CIA director

Laura Rozen
The Envoy

The Senate voted 94 to 0 today to confirm Gen. David Petraeus as CIA director.

Petraeus told lawmakers earlier this month that he would retire from the Army to take up the post. The Senate was also moving today to approve by unanimous consent the confirmation of Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Allen to serve as Petraeus' successor as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan.

Petraeus' confirmation comes as outgoing CIA director Leon Panetta informed CIA employees today that the Justice Department would recommend no legal action be taken in all but two of almost 100 alleged cases of harsh interrogation of detained terrorism suspects.

"The Attorney General has informed me that, with limited exceptions, the Department of Justice inquiries concerning the Agency's former rendition, detention, and interrogation program have been completed and are now closed," Panetta wrote in a letter the CIA shared with journalists today. "After extensive examination of more than 100 instances in which CIA had contact or was alleged to have had contact with terrorist detainees, [Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durnham] has determined that no further law enforcement action is appropriate in all but two discrete cases."

The Justice Department is continuing to investigate two cases in which detainees died, one at Abu Ghraib, and one in Afghanistan.

Panetta was unanimously confirmed earlier this month as the next defense secretary, to succeed Robert Gates. President Barack Obama surprised Gates by awarding him the Medal of Freedom at a send-off ceremony today.

"Arrivaderci," Panetta wrote CIA employees in a separate farewell thank you note today, that the CIA shared with journalists. "Before I move on to my new job at the Pentagon tomorrow, I want to thank you one more time for your knowledge, capability, dedication, friendship, and patriotism—and for giving me the greatest, most fulfilling moments in more than 40 years of public service."