Friday, November 02, 2007

bu$h's Lap Dogs

Tim Dickinson in Rolling Stone:

IN OCTOBER, WITH OSAMA BIN LADEN still at large, the Central Intelligence Agency announced the creation of a new spy unit. Headed by a top deputy and staffed with a select corps of agents, the operation was charged with gathering intelligence on a single man — a foe who was threatening to undermine the president's War on Terror.

The CIA's new target? John Helgerson, the man appointed by President Bush to expose wrongdoing at the CIA. As inspector general of the agency, Helgerson came under attack from his superiors simply for trying to do his job: He was aggressively investigating torture at the CIA's secret prisons.

Like the other twenty-eight inspectors within the executive branch, Helgerson is supposed to be immune from such political meddling. Created in 1978 as a post-Watergate check on Nixonian abuses of power, the inspectors bypass the chain of command within their own agencies and report their findings directly to Congress. By law, the president must appoint these watchdogs "without regard to political affiliation" and "solely on the basis of integrity and demonstrated ability."

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