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Lawmakers Back CIA's Internal Critic

Reyes is to meet with the CIA leadership next week to discuss the matter. The House intelligence committee had been unaware of the investigation until it was reported Friday in The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, said committee spokeswoman Kira Maas. Wyden said he also was not briefed.

CIA spokesman George Little said Friday concerns about the independence of the office are unfounded.

"This is a straightforward management review, nothing more. The authorities and independence of the Office of Inspector General are not in question. Taking a fresh look at the vital work that office does, and, if need be, offering constructive suggestions for the OIG itself to consider, can only strengthen oversight at the CIA. It's ridiculous to suggest that this is in any way an attack on the concept of a vigorous system of inspection and investigation."

The CIA review is being led by Robert Deitz, senior counsel to Hayden and the general counsel at the National Security Agency when Hayden was NSA director.

Helgerson has been highly critical of the CIA. In a report in August, for example, he concluded that Tenet and other senior leaders never developed a comprehensive plan to stop al-Qaida and missed crucial opportunities to thwart two hijackers in the run-up to the Sept. 11 attacks. Under congressional orders, the agency recently declassified portions of the embarrassing findings.

Helgerson has also been highly critical, in classified reports, of the agency's treatment of detainees.

The newspaper reports said the review was focusing on complaints that Helgerson's office has not been impartial and has assumed guilt on the part of agency operatives, particularly those who participated in the agency's detention programs.

Hayden's probe is highly unusual because it deviates from normal government processes. When agencies have issues with the conduct of their inspectors general, the standard procedure is to file a complaint alleging "gross misconduct" with a special panel at the White House Office of Management and Budget. If that panel finds merit in the complaint, it refers it to an inspector general at another federal agency for full investigation.

Hayden also could have taken his objections to President Bush, who appointed Helgerson, Ruppersberger said.

"Now that this is out in the media it doesn't look good for anybody," Ruppersberger said.

(This version CORRECTS spelling of Deitz.)

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© 2007 The Associated Press