The CIA’s Prisons

THE CIA’S PRISONS….One of Dana Priest’s sources for her Pulitzer-winning series of stories about the CIA’s secret network of prisons in Europe was apparently CIA officer Mary McCarthy, who was fired last week for leaking to Priest. But how is it that McCarthy even knew about the agency’s prison system, anyway? After all, she didn’t work on the operational side of the house. She worked for the Inspector General’s office.

The best guess floating around right now is that the only way someone in the IG’s office could know about the prisons is if the IG’s office was investigating the prisons. Juliette Kayyem comments:

So, here are the questions:

(1) Was there an IG investigation of the prisons? If yes, who authorized it? What happened to it?

(2) If no, did the CIA Director (goss) prohibit it from happening under the national security exception? Did he notify Congress as required by law?

Those are good questions. Here’s another one: how did this program end up in the IG’s office in the first place? Ken Silverstein offers a clue over at Harper’s:

An ex-senior agency officer who keeps in contact with his former peers told me that there is a ?a big swing? in anti-Bush sentiment at Langley. ?I’ve been stunned by what I’m hearing,? he said. ?There are people who fear that indictments and subpoenas could be coming down, and they don’t want to get caught up in it.?

This former senior officer said there ?seems to be a quiet conspiracy by rational people? at the agency to avoid involvement in some of the particularly nasty tactics being employed by the administration, especially ?renditions? ? the practice whereby the CIA sends terrorist suspects abroad to be questioned in Egypt, Syria, Uzbekistan, and other nations where the regimes are not squeamish about torturing detainees.

The secret prisons may be another target of these “rational people.” If enough of them are refusing to be involved with the prison system, that’s something that’s almost certain to eventually come to the attention of a body charged with agency oversight. Stay tuned.