NEWS & EDITOR’S COMMENT: Is the CIA trying to cover its tracks or avoid a set up?

CIA internal inquiry troubling, lawmaker says

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said today he was troubled by reports that the director of the Central Intelligence Agency has ordered an unusual internal inquiry into the work of the agency’s inspector general, whose aggressive investigations of the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation programs and other matters have created resentment among agency operatives.

Representative Silvestre Reyes, Democrat of Texas, noted in a statement that the law guarantees the independence of the inspector general. “It is this independence that Congress established and will very aggressively preserve,” Mr. Reyes said. “The initiation of this investigation, if accurately reported, is troubling.”

Mr. Reyes was reacting to reports that a small team working for the C.I.A. director, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, was looking into the conduct of the agency’s watchdog office, which is led by Inspector General John L. Helgerson. Current and former government officials said the review had caused anxiety and anger in Mr. Helgerson’s office and aroused concern on Capitol Hill that it posed a conflict of interest.

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. [complete article]

Editor’s Comment — Sounds like there are grounds for suspicion on all sides here. Undermining the IG’s independence stinks, but at the same time, a purported crusade against the CIA’s torturers could instead actually be a preemptive move initiated by the White House to line up some scapegoats-in-waiting to save Bush and Cheney from being charged with war crimes. Call it a search for the CIA’s Lynndie England and Charles Graner, even if the agency will have a much harder time portraying its interogators as witless subordinates.

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