Friday, May 22, 2009

CIA Inspector General's Report

An article published today discusses a (hopefully) soon to be declassified report done by the CIA's Inspector General John Helgerson who investigated the agency's use of torture. According to this article, former Vice President Cheney tried to interfere in the preparation of this report, completed in May of 2004, that implicates CIA employees in the deaths of detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq and included the referral of criminal cases to the Justice Department. Cases referred for possible prosecution included misconduct, abuse, and homicide. The article references the book, "The Dark Side," by Jane Mayer, which details detainee abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan and other information gained from the report which she states is "as thick as two Manhattan phone books" and was "sickening."

"The behavior it described, another knowledgeable source said, raised concerns not just about the detainees but also about the Americans who had inflicted the abuse, one of whom seemed to have become frighteningly dehumanized," Mayer wrote. "The source said, 'You couldn't read the documents without wondering, "Why didn't someone say, 'Stop!'""Mayer added that Cheney routinely "summoned" Inspector General Helgerson to meet with him privately about his investigation, launched in 2003, and soon thereafter the probe "was stopped in its tracks." Mayer characterized Cheney's interaction with Helgerson as highly unusual.

Mayer goes on to describe Cheney's actions as unusual, noting that the Inspector General is supposed to be independent and apolitical, but "...Cheney summoned the CIA Inspector General more than once to his office," going on to say that, "Cheney loomed over everything," a former CIA officer told Mayer. "The whole IG's office was completely politicized. They were working hand in glove with the White House."

This interference by Cheney, said Mayer, shows that, as early as 2004, "the Vice President's office was fully aware that there were allegations of serious wrongdoing in the [torture] Program."

"In addition to showing the inconclusive nature of the value of intelligence gleaned through torture, the report will likely show that Helgerson warned top CIA officials that the interrogation techniques administered to detainees "might violate some provisions of the International Convention Against Torture." A November 9, 2005, report published in The New York Times said Helgerson's report "raised concern about whether the use of the [torture] techniques could expose agency officers to legal liability."

Every day that Cheney gives a speech, that daughter Liz makes another appearance to support him, another official reports his or her side. Another memorandum is released. There is a belief by many, that it is this report, that when released, that will be the one that will result in criminal prosecutions. We'll see.

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