Fascism Watch: Silencing the Watchdogs
The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, 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.
A small team working for General Hayden is 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.
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. [Source: NYT 10/12/2007]
This stuff scares the sh-- out of me. The Inspector General's office is the only true oversight the agency has, because it's integrated deeply into the CIA already. Congress is limited in the oversight it can provide because they can't object to what they don't know about. Many of them aren't given 'clearance' - can you imagine? The people we elect to run the country don't deserve this information? The people trust them, but the CIA doesn't, so the CIA overrules the people's wishes and decides who can and can't oversee them, and to what degree? I mean, I've known this to be the case. But the last refuge of sanity has always been the office of the Inspector General (IG). The IG report on the Castro assassination plots is the only place in official history where you learn that the CIA did not inform the Kennedys of the assassination plots against Castro until the Phase I plots were over, and moreover, that the CIA did not inform the Kennedys of the Phase II plots, which were happening without their knowledge. (See David Talbot's book Brothers for the fullest discussion of this in print yet.)
When the CIA publicly denied having anything to do with the cocaine connection in Los Angeles, revealed by Gary Webb, it was the IG report that showed that Webb had gotten it right.
I have a great fondness for the IG office. I feel those professionals in the CIA really have proven, time and again, that they have our interests at heart. I hope they get some protection, because the fascists brook no opposition, and the IG's office is standing between us and fascism right now. We need to give the IG thanks, and cover.
And could someone on Capitol Hill please grow some balls and take on Gen. Hayden over this? Don't just exhibit anxiety and wring your hands, damn it.
Do something important, for once.
Take a stand that might cost you something.
Be a leader.
That's why we put you there in the first place.