CIA Investigates its Inspector General National newspapers report the CIA is conducting an internal investigation of its own inspector general. John Helgerson has been critical of the agency's programs and its senior officials.
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CIA Investigates its Inspector General

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CIA Investigates its Inspector General

CIA Investigates its Inspector General

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Two national newspapers lead today with stories of internal turmoil at the CIA. Both the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times report that the CIA director, General Michael Hayden, has opened an investigation into the work of his agency's inspector general. That man is John Helgerson. He's a longtime CIA insider. It's normally his responsibility to investigate how the CIA is doing its job, rather than the other way around.

Greg Miller wrote the piece in the L.A. Times.

Greg, why is this a lead story today? Why is this so significant?

Mr. GREG MILLER (Los Angeles Times): I think it's significant because you have the director of an agency investigating the investigator. And this is an investigator who has put a lot of harsh scrutiny on senior agency officials over the past several years for intelligence failures stemming from the 9/11 attacks through the interrogation and rendition and detention programs that have been highly, highly controversial.

CHADWICK: So how is Mr. Helgerson regarded within the CIA, and what is it that he's done? He's held the job for five years.

Mr. MILLER: The people that I talked to, current and former CIA officials, said that he is certainly not seen as a vindictive person, but there are lots of people who are in the agency's Directorate of Operations, which is its main operational branch, who are suspicious of his motives, who feel that the inspector general's office doesn't understand the work they do and has treated them unfairly with the sort of harsh judgments that the inspector general has rendered in a series of reports over the past four or five years.

CHADWICK: Particularly focusing on how the CIA interrogators treat terrorist detainee suspects, but also he was quite critical of former CIA Director George Tenet and how the agency handled itself in the months leading up to the 9/11 attacks.

Mr. MILLER: Most of the inspector general's work - it's classified, it never really sees - the public never gets to see it, but that was a report that did surface publicly, mainly because Congress required the agency to release a portion of it. And it was really a blistering critique of Tenet and other senior agency officials that basically said that they didn't do enough. And Tenet and others were deeply upset. And it became a big public clash between Helgerson, the CIA's inspector general, and some of the top officials at the agency.

CHADWICK: Let me sum up a couple of points in your article. One, a former inspector general says it's very bad to carry out this kind of investigation because it'll send a message to the agency that you don't have to pay attention to the inspector general; you can pretty much conduct yourself the way you want.

And two, the files of the inspector general may become open to this investigation. And people who spoke in confidence may find that their confidence is broken.

Mr. MILLER: If you're a whistleblower in the agency, are you going to be nervous now about your files, your information, your name, could be retrieved by agency directors or other senior agency officials who are poking around in the inspector general's business?

CHADWICK: A spokesman for the agency says that General Hayden, the director, simply wants to help the inspector general do his job better, that he thinks it's an important job. However, the inspector general reports both to the president and to Congress. And I wonder if there's any sense there in Washington that this really has to do with continuing revelations about the CIA practices in interrogating terrorist detainees.

Mr. MILLER: Right. There are questions about whether this move by the CIA's director is an attempt to sort of reign in the inspector general and get him back on the team, so to speak.

CHADWICK: Greg Miller of the Los Angeles Times with a story today that the CIA director has ordered an investigation of the agency's inspector general.

Greg, thank you.

Mr. MILLER: Thank you very much.

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