From NBC's Andrea Mitchell
Leon Panetta's confirmation hearing to head the CIA continues, and today the top Republican -- retiring Sen. Kit Bond -- forced Panetta to back down and retract his statement from yesterday that the U.S. had transported suspects to other countries to be tortured.
That has been alleged by suspects, and was the topic of a New York Times editorial yesterday, but the CIA has consistently denied it. Carrying the water for the agency that Panetta wants to lead, Bond confronted Panetta and demanded what proof he had beyond "liberal blogs" and media reports.
Panetta was forced to retreat, even though President Obama has signed executive orders specifically aimed at ending the widely reported -- and widely substantiated -- practice during the Bush years
Overnight, there was a lot of pushback from the agency -- officials were not happy yesterday as they watched the CIA nominee take such a critical position on torture and interrogation, arguably the most volatile legal and moral issue facing the agencies.
Click here for more information on Panetta's remarks and confirmation hearing.