C.I.A. Internal Inquiry Troubling, Lawmakers Say
WASHINGTON, Oct. 12 — Members of the House and Senate intelligence committees expressed concern today about an unusual inquiry into the work of the Central Intelligence Agency’s inspector general, John L. Helgerson, saying that it could undermine his role as independent watchdog.
The inquiry was ordered by General Michael V. Hayden, the C.I.A. director. Representative Silvestre Reyes, the Texas Democrat who is chairman of the House committee, called news of the inquiry “troubling,” noting that the inspector general’s independence is written into law.
“It is this independence that Congress established and will very aggressively preserve,” Mr. Reyes said in a statement.
. . . Some current and former agency officials said such an inquiry was improper, because it could be viewed as an attempt by General Hayden to influence continuing investigations of agency programs. A spokesman for General Hayden said the goal of the inquiry was merely to help Mr. Helgerson do his work better.
. . . Tensions arose over the inspector general’s examination of the shooting down of a missionary plane in Peru in 2001 based on the C.I.A.’s mistaken identification of the aircraft as one used by drug smugglers. Mr. Helgerson raised questions in 2004 about the legality of the agency’s harsh interrogation methods for Al Qaeda suspects and in 2005 issued a blistering report on the agency’s failure to prevent the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Mr. Wyden said General Hayden fought hard to prevent the inspector general’s Sept. 11 report from becoming public. Ultimately Congress passed legislation requiring the release of the report, and it was made public in August of this year.
Lee Iacocca, ex Chrysler Chairman, once said he would make a lousy president, because he was used to giving orders and having them followed.
Many of us wondered at the time if it was wise to nominate an Air Force General to be CIA Director–a General who still wears the uniform, by the way–for the same basic reason.
Now it seems Hayden is being undone for the arrogance of trying to impeach the independence of his Inspector General (a non-military title). Hayden is not the first to hold both the Directorship and military rank, but then just because all men are mammals does not mean all mammals are men.
The early returns do not augur well for the General.