Top CIA Legal Official Quit In Protest Of Bush Administration’s Torture Policies

haydensmg5.gif The CIA’s Inspector General (IG) has investigated some of the Bush administration’s most controversial programs, includings its detainee torture policies. In 2004, IG John L. Helgerson issued a report warning “that some C.I.A.-approved interrogation procedures appeared to constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, as defined by the international Convention Against Torture.”

The New York Times reports today that CIA Director Michael Hayden, who has been unhappy with Helgerson’s aggressive oversight, has ordered an internal investigation into Helgerson. The move is “unusual, if not unprecedented, and would threaten to undermine the independence of the office.”

Helgerson wasn’t the only government official concerned with the Bush administration’s torture policies. Harper’s Ken Silverstein reports today that “several sources” have told him that a senior CIA legal official quit in protest of such “enhanced interrogations” policies:

[I]t turns out that a former senior CIA legal official quit in protest over the administration’s use of “enhanced interrogations.” This official, whose name I have promised not to publish, previously worked as a deputy IG for investigations under Frederick Hitz, who served as CIA IG between 1990 and 1998. From there, the official moved on the CIA’s Office of General Counsel.

What’s interesting is that this official was generally known as something of a hardliner. I haven’t been able to pin down the date of his departure, which may have occurred a year ago or more. However, the sources tell me he couldn’t stomach what he deemed to be abuses by the Bush Administration and stepped down from his post.

Silverstein also reported in April 2006 that there was “a quiet conspiracy by rational people” at the CIA to “avoid involvement” in some of the Bush administration’s most objectionable policies, such as rendition.

UPDATE: Spencer Ackerman has House Intelligence Committee chairman Silvestre Reyes’s (D-TX) reaction to Hayden’s investigation of Helgerson HERE.

UPDATE II: Ackerman also points out that Bush’s prep school buddy Clay Johnson III may lead the investigation into Helgerson. Johnson “keeps a George Bush doll on his desk.”

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