Well over a year ago I reported on a brewing revolt within the CIA over the Bush Administration’s use of renditions, “enhanced interrogation” techniques (otherwise known as torture) and other tough tactics employed in the “war on terrorism.” One former official with whom I spoke at the time told me, “There are people who fear that indictments and subpoenas could be coming down, and they don’t want to get caught up in it.” This person went on to describe a split at the CIA, saying, “There’s an SS group within the agency that’s willing to do anything and there’s a Wehrmacht group that is saying, ‘I’m not gonna touch this stuff’.”
Since then, it’s become clear that dissent within the agency on these matters has become even more intense. As I’ve also previously reported, some of the in-house critics have taken their complaints to CIA Inspector General (IG) John Helgerson. Today’s New York Times reports that CIA director General Michael Hayden
has ordered an unusual internal inquiry into the work of [Helgerson], whose aggressive investigations of the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation programs and other matters have created resentment among agency operatives…The review is particularly focused on complaints that Mr. Helgerson’s office has not acted as a fair and impartial judge of agency operations but instead has begun a crusade against those who have participated in controversial detention programs. Any move by the agency’s director to examine the work of the inspector general would be unusual, if not unprecedented, and would threaten to undermine the independence of the office, some current and former officials say.
Here’s something else that I’ve just learned from several sources: it turns out that a former senior CIA legal official quit in protest over the administration’s use of “enhanced interrogations.” This official, whose name I have promised not to publish, previously worked as a deputy IG for investigations under Frederick Hitz, who served as CIA IG between 1990 and 1998. From there, the official moved on the CIA’s Office of General Counsel.
What’s interesting is that this official was generally known as something of a hardliner. I haven’t been able to pin down the date of his departure, which may have occurred a year ago or more. However, the sources tell me he couldn’t stomach what he deemed to be abuses by the Bush Administration and stepped down from his post.
Asked for comment about Helgerson, CIA spokesman George Little said, “Director Hayden firmly believes that the work of the Office of Inspector General is critical to the entire agency, and he has, since
taking the helm at CIA, accepted the vast majority of its findings. His only goal is to help this office, like any other office here, do its vital work even better… This is
basically a management review, the kind of thing you’d expect a healthy
organization to do. CIA’s Inspector General is aware that it’s being
done, and congressional staffers have been briefed on the matter.” Little said he would look into the question of the legal official’s resignation and call back if he had comment. If he does, I’ll update this story.