The Watchdog’s Watchdog

Last month, just as CIA’s IG and Director learned of the DOJ investigation into the torture tape destruction, the CIA also announced that Helgerson and Hayden had agreed on some measures to make the IG process "more fair."

The CIA has completed a controversial in-house probe of its inspector general and plans to make a series of changes in the way the agency conducts internal investigations, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

CIA Inspector General John L. Helgerson has consented to more than a dozen procedural changes designed to address complaints that investigations carried out by his office were unfair to agency employees, the officials said.

Right on schedule, yesterday the CIA announced those "procedural changes." The IG’s office will have an ombudsman to act as a watchdog on the watchdog.

The CIA’s inspector general has agreed to tighter controls over its investigative procedures, agency officials revealed yesterday, in what appeared to be an attempt to soften resentments among agency officials over the watchdog’s aggressive probes into the legality and effectiveness of the CIA’s counterterrorism efforts and detention programs.

The revisions, which include the appointment of a special ombudsman to oversee the IG’s work, were disclosed by CIA Director Michael V. Hayden in an e-mail sent to employees, announcing the end of an unusual inquiry into the performance of Inspector General John L. Helgerson, a 36-year CIA veteran and the man chiefly responsible for the spy agency’s internal oversight.

Most interesting–or troubling, depending on how you look at it–is the requirement that the IG’s office keep senior CIA officers informed of the status of investigations.

The changes include measures intended to speed up investigations and require the watchdog to keep CIA employees and managers informed about both the process and results of investigations.

Call me crazy, but I would imagine that if you tell the CIA Director that you’re about to report that the "enhanced interrogation techniques" the CIA has been doing probably violate international law, then you’re never going to be able to write a report to that effect. And certainly never going to be able to circulate to anyone who can do something about the violations of international law.

6 replies
  1. phred says:

    Stifling oversight??? This administration??? Nah, that can’t be… (/snark).

    I guess they figured they couldn’t just fire Helgerson, so instead they have to make sure he can’t cause trouble. I am really struck that in the last year of this administration, they are still going full steam ahead to stifle oversight, silence dissent, and brook no compromise. You would think Congress would have more pride than to tolerate this conduct, but I suspect we won’t hear a peep of complaint.

  2. Sedgequill says:

    That’s an odd kind of ombudsman. Ombudsmen generally field, examine, and present public or external concerns and not primarily or entirely internal concerns.

  3. freepatriot says:

    and in other news, arlen “magic bullet” specter is going to investigate a similar case of evidence destruction with even MORE earth shattering implications …

    The New England Patriots videotaping scandal

    arlen wants to know why THOSE tapes were destroyed

    but the CIA torture tapes …

    not so much

    I’m beginning to think the people of the great state of pennsylvania take their football a little too seriously

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Why, I hear the sounds of the very granite of Pennsylvania crackle and shatter as I read… <8^}
      What a relief to know Sen Specter is on this one lickety-split! Booyahhhhh.

      As for EW’s “Call me crazy…”
      Ummmm… ‘crazy’ would not be the first word that comes to mind.
      Nice of Hayden to be so accommodating, eh?

  4. LabDancer says:

    Despite the fact that the CIA has special status in being totally “hands off” from political machinations by the White House, pretty much on par with the DOJ and the Energy Departement and State and of course the Pentagon, is it just possible that there’s the teensiest chance this development may come under the general heading of “List of Things We Have To Do Before Tsunami Tuesday”?

    Because it sure wasn’t the GOOP which brought into US government agencies the concept of “inspector general”; and it sure wasn’t the Bush Cheney Cabal which failed to take what it thought were all steps necessary to negate the efficacy of the concept.

    One of reasons why House Oversight Chair Waxman is among the few heroes of the 110th Congress is that in the course of dredging the Bush-Cheney enabled Goopification of the US civil service a pretty long list of pink slips is in the offing.

    I would hope that if Senator Obama takes the wreath he doesn’t let his vision of a ‘transformative’ effect on US government to extend to leaving any of these Gooper termite infestations in place. Because the GOOP’s idea of bipartisanship is that they’ve got a gun & we’ve got a gun so we should just shoot ourselves.

  5. oldtree says:

    more of that dog on man, man on dog, dog and man on dog.
    imagine anyone believing anything they say? I think we have to face it, we have greedy little children that have not, and will not, grow up. There is no one in government that you can’t replace with a human. It was set up that way to begin with, but everyone forgot.

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