May 20th, 2010
10:29 AM ET

Security Brief: Tracking top spy doesn't always take a sleuth

So much for being covert.

CIA Director Leon Panetta is currently on his ninth mission overseas, a high-profile visit to Pakistan with National Security Advisory James Jones.

Usually CIA trips are kept way under the radar. The nation's top sleuth, and probably most of his international peers, prefer working in the shadows. But when it comes to Pakistan, it seems to slip out, one way or another, that he is in country.

Shortly after being sworn in as the new CIA director 15 months ago, Panetta met with Pakistani leaders. The usually behind-the-scenes meeting was turned into a photo-op by the Pakistanis.

He was back there in November, according to Pakistani reports.

U.S. officials readily confirmed his participation in the current trip. White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan said Panetta and Jones were in Pakistan to talk with officials about the relationship of the accused Times Square bomber with the Pakistani Taliban and "to underscore the importance that all efforts are taken to suppress terrorism that emanates from that part of the world."

There have been a couple of other sightings of Panetta overseas. He was videotaped in India on the same trip that took him to neighboring Pakistan in March 2009. The CIA was mum about news reports of his visiting Israel.

Overall, Panetta has visited 22 countries since taking office, CNN has learned.

Why so much travel? A U.S. intelligence official said Panetta "places a powerful emphasis on strengthening our government's relationships with other intelligence services, especially those with whom it's vital to work in areas such as counterterrorism and counterproliferation."

The official added, "those personal ties mean a freer and better flow of ideas and information."

But there's another reason for the overseas jaunts. The intelligence official says Panetta has made it a priority to visit CIA officers in the field, meeting with more than a thousand agency personnel.

soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Engineer

    Tracking a spy isn't as hard as you think. Make sure when building a sentry and dispenser that a spy doesn't take ammo from the dispenser to keep his cloak charged. Swing the wrench above and around the dispenser to make sure of this. When guarding your gear and seeing the teleporter get sapped from the other side, unsap it without standing on top of it. Often the spy will try to telefrag me, but once he takes it and fails, my wrench takes care of the rest. As for tracking them in general, just listen closely for uncloaking or dead ringer sounds, and watch for the usual disguises. Check ANYONE who isn't firing their weapon, even if they are holding something different and even reloading in some cases. You'll be tracking spies like a pro in no time as long as you use your brain.

    May 20, 2010 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Heavy Weapons Guy

      And be sure to call for backup from your family-friendly HWG if you need an entire area plastered with lead to weed out a cloaked spy.

      May 20, 2010 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Orange Box Fan

      Brilliant comment Engineer. LMAO

      May 20, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. obongo

    Just keep a paid watcher on main airports.
    CIA big shots wouldn't travel any other way to a 3rd world country.

    At any rate, spotting a CIA operative is usually trivial, just by the looks and the obvious flagrant foreign "donald duck" accent. Also they will always order bottled water only and eat atrocious McDonald s**t.

    May 20, 2010 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  3. Dan


    May 20, 2010 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |