CIA Reportedly Will Pay Legal Fees of Officers in Interrogation Abuse Probe
Posted Aug 28, 2009 6:07 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
The CIA will make sure officers investigated for interrogation abuses have legal representation, according to a senior intelligence official.
The unnamed official told the Washington Post that CIA Director Leon Panetta “will do everything he can to ensure that anyone who needs legal representation has it, whether they have liability insurance or not. … People who did tough jobs for the country won't be left by the side of the road.”
CIA employees often buy professional liability insurance covering defense costs of government investigations, and several officers already have lawyers paid by the insurers, the Post says. One company charges $292 a year for liability coverage capped at $200,000.
Attorney General Eric Holder has appointed federal prosecutor John Durham to probe whether a full-scale criminal investigation of interrogation abuses is merited. The decision has created tension between the Justice Department and the CIA, according to the New York Times.
Panetta had earlier sent the CIA’s top lawyer, Stephen Preston, to the Justice Department to argue against a probe. When Panetta learned of the prosecutor’s appointment, he reportedly phoned Holder, pledged cooperation “but expressed his displeasure and swore mildly, if only once,” the Times says.
A separate story in the Washington Post says Holder’s decision highlights his influence in the administration. Holder notified the White House when he was considering the appointment, and the attorney general was told that the decision was up to him, according to the story.