The CIA investigates its Inspector General

If the director [of the CIA] has a problem with the way the Inspector General is performing his job, he can go to the Congress, to the president’s intelligence oversight board, or he can go to the president himself.

Frederick Hitz objects to an announcement that CIA Director Michael Hayden has ordered an internal investigation of the CIA’s Inspector General.

The inquiry is focused on the conduct of CIA Inspector General John L. Helgerson and his office. Officials said it was aimed in particular at evaluating whether his office was fair and impartial in its scrutiny of the agency’s terrorist detention and interrogation programs. …

The CIA created a network of secret overseas prisons shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, and it has faced severe international criticism for employing harsh interrogation tactics as well as a program known as “extraordinary rendition,” in which prisoners have been transferred to countries known to use torture.

The Inspector General has issued a series of reports sharply critical of top CIA officials.

Hitz (who was the CIA’s Inspector General from 1990 to 1998) is making the point that Director Hayden has other options if he is concerned about the performance of the Inspector General. He describes the investigation as an attempt “to call off the dogs”.

U.S. intelligence officials who are concerned about the inquiry said it was unprecedented and could threaten the independence of the inspector general position. The probe “could at least lead to appearances he’s trying to interfere with the IG, or intimidate the IG or get the IG to back off,” said a U.S. official familiar with the probe.

It’s not as if there are no legitimate concerns about the performance of the CIA!

Helgerson has become an unusually high-profile occupant of the position largely because his tenure has coincided with a series of historic intelligence blunders.

An examination of failures leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks was sharply critical of [former CIA Director George] Tenet and other senior CIA officials, saying they “did not discharge their duties in a satisfactory manner,” and calling for the creation of special in-house panels to determine whether they should be reprimanded.

Americans should understand that the Bush Administration continually resists accountability of any kind — even accountability to the US Constitution.

Actually, to resist accountability is a normal trait of governments and other authority figures. But Americans (including Democrats in Congress) are allowing the Bush Administration to get away with it. This sort of bullshit should set alarm bells ringing:

The CIA probe comes at a time when the powers of inspectors general in agencies throughout the federal government are under renewed debate. This month, the Bush administration threatened to veto a House bill that would strengthen the independence of inspectors general by giving them seven-year terms and permit the White House to fire them only for cause.

N.B. The President wants the option of firing Inspectors General without cause — in other words, anytime he feels like it, for any reason or none. Is it true that "America does not care"?

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. nebcanuck
    Oct 12, 2007 @ 21:55:00

    The President has the ability to arrest who he wants without question. Now he wants to be able to fire Inspectors General without cause. What’s next? The ability to elect the Congress he desires? I agree with you absolutely that the Bush administration’s legacy is one of avoiding accountability. Other governments are good at it, but the President’s ability to veto really gives him an edge over say, Harper, who still has to abide by his minority parliament!

    Reply

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