CIA Director Leon Panetta: Hollywood's Got the CIA Wrong

Panetta says his job is more challenging than Hollywood can imagine.


By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers

He's been on the job only a month, but new CIA Director Leon Panetta is fast becoming familiar with life as the nation's top spy. Returning home from his first trip to countries that included India and Pakistan, he issued a note to his troops that captured both the odd nature of the job and his pride in the CIA's workforce. "For all of you who have ever been on a [foreign assignment] and called home to say, 'Honey, I can't tell you where I am, who I'm with, or what I'm doing, but I'm fine,' I now have a better sense of what you go through," Panetta said in the memo dispatched while flying home. "I came away incredibly impressed by the professionalism and dedication of our Agency personnel, many serving in dangerous locations away from their families," he added.

What's more, he noted, the job of a CIA agent is a lot different from the Hollywood version. He knows because he watched movies like the Bourne Supremacy on the flight back to Washington. "Yes, I admit I've watched a Bourne movie and three other spy flicks on the flight home and smiled when I thought about how Hollywood has no idea about what we can really do. The great skill and contribution of our work would make a better movie . . . but no one would believe it!"

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