In the spring of 2004, then-CIA Inspector General John Helgerson issued a classified report warning “that interrogation procedures approved by the C.I.A. after the Sept. 11 attacks might violate some provisions of the international Convention Against Torture.” Helgerson’s report “also raised concern about whether the use of the techniques could expose agency officers to legal liability.”
In an interview today, Harper’s Scott Horton asks investigative journalist Jane Mayer about the revelation in her new book that “Helgerson was summoned repeatedly to meet privately with Vice President Cheney” before his investigation was “stopped in its tracks.” Mayer said that Cheney’s interaction with Helgerson was “highly unusual“:
MAYER:Asked for comment, Helgerson through the CIA spokesman denied he felt pressured in any way by Cheney. But others I interviewed have described the IG’s office to me as extremely politicized. They have also suggested it was very unusual that the Vice President interjected himself into the work of the IG. Fred Hitz, who had the same post in previous administrations, told me that no vice president had ever met with him. He thought it highly unusual.
According to Mayer, Helgerson’s report is said to be “very disturbing, the size of two Manhattan phone books, and full of terrible descriptions of mistreatment.” Mayer added that Cheney’s interest in Helgerson proves that as early as 2004 “the Vice President’s office was fully aware that there were allegations of serious wrongdoing in The Program.”
In October 2007, CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden “ordered an unusual internal inquiry” into Helgerson’s office, focusing on complaints that Helgerson was on “a crusade against those who have participated in controversial detention programs.”