If Dick Cheney (channeled through Joby Warrick and Walter Pincus) didn’t want the CIA to be hung out to dry, perhaps he shouldn’t have thrown the CIA in the washer and left them by the clothesline with a bag of clothes pins:
Morale has sagged at the CIA following the release of additional portions of an inspector general’s review of the agency’s interrogation program and the announcement that the Justice Department would investigate possible abuses by interrogators, according to former intelligence officials, especially those associated with the program.
A. B. “Buzzy” Krongard, the third-ranking CIA official at the time of the use of harsh interrogation practices, said that although vigorous oversight is crucial, the public airing of once-classified internal assessments and the prospect of further investigation are damaging the agency. “Morale at the agency is down to minus 50,” he said.
Pincus and Warrick go on for paragraphs about how demoralized CIA employees are as a result of the release of torture documentation and Attorney-General Eric Holder’s decision to appoint a special prosecutor. They base their assertions on two anonymous sources (one of whom is retired), and Krongard, who is also retired. Then, after having planted these seeds, they cover themselves by pointing out that perhaps Krongard is not in a position to know the state of thousands of CIA employees’ morale:
It is impossible to extrapolate from the small sample contacted by Washington Post reporters about the effect the varied inquiries are having on the thousands of agency employees, more than one-third of whom are spread around the world. But among the dozens of officials who were part of the program and either remain active or have retired, feelings run high about how the White House and the Justice Department have handled the issue.
Okay. So, among (not necessarily all even within this smaller group) the very small number (relative to the total CIA population) of employees who “were part of the program” (some, or many? of whom have retired) some subset of those dozens (again, not necessarily, and probably not, all), “feelings run high about how the White House and the Justice Department have handled the issue.” Feelings run high? (I can hear Joby and Walter now: “We didn’t say they all disagree with how the White House and Justice Department handled the issue! We SAID, ‘Feelings run high!’ “).
The guy who is arguably in the best position to know what the largest number of CIA employees think is John Helgerson, since he is the one who did the interviewing and the research, and wrote the report:
Helgerson’s review showed that CIA officials involved in the program anticipated the possibility of disclosure and investigation. “A number of agency officers of various grade levels . . . involved with detention and interrogation activities are concerned that they may at some future date be vulnerable to legal action . . . and that the U.S. government will not stand behind them,” the 2004 report reads.
Helgerson now says he received a steady flow of information, questions and encouragement during his inquiry. “Frankly, I could not walk through the cafeteria without people walking up to me, not to complain but to say, ‘More power to you.’ ”
Former senior officials say that they were concerned with what was an unprecedented program and that as reports came in from secret sites alleging improper activities, they took action, including sending reports to Helgerson.