John L. Helgerson

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John L. Helgerson has served as Inspector General, Office of Inspector General, for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) since February 2002.[1]

Helgerson "has investigated some of the Bush administration's most controversial programs, including its detainee torture policies. In 2004, IG John L. Helgerson issued a report warning 'that some C.I.A.-approved interrogation procedures appeared to constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, as defined by the international Convention Against Torture.'"[2]

Helgerson's "recent inquiries into the CIA's handling of pre-9/11 intelligence[3] and the detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects,[4] which have produced some damning results, have ruffled more than a few feathers within the spy community. CIA Director Michael Hayden, in particular, has not tried to hide his frustration[5] with some of Helgerson's work."[6]


It was reported October 11, 2007, that CIA Director Hayden had "mounted a highly unusual challenge" to Helgerson, "ordering an internal investigation" of Helgerson for "issu[ing] a series of scathing reports sharply critical of top CIA officials" and their role in "secret overseas prisons."[7]

"The review is particularly focused on complaints that Mr. Helgerson’s office has not acted as a fair and impartial judge of agency operations but instead has begun a crusade against those who have participated in controversial detention programs."[8]

Frederick P. Hitz, CIA Inspector General 1990 to 1998, said "the move would be perceived as an effort by Hayden 'to call off the dogs. ... What it would lead to is an undercutting of the inspector general's authority and his ability to investigate allegations of wrongdoing,' Hitz said. 'The rank and file will become aware of it, and it will undercut the inspector general's ability to get the truth from them.'

"But other officials described the probe as a chance to turn the tables on an inspector general who has been accused by some of his targets of treating career officers unfairly and letting personal biases undermine his objectivity."[7]

"The CIA's review is being led by Robert Deitz, an attorney with long-standing ties to Hayden who was brought in to serve as a senior counselor to the director. Deitz, who served as general counsel at the National Security Agency when Hayden was director there in the 1990s, has assembled a small team of investigators to conduct the probe."[7]


Helgerson "received his B.A. degree in Political Science from Saint Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. He received an M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Mr. Helgerson served in the late 1960s as a Research Affiliate in the University of Zambia in Lusaka. Before joining the CIA in 1971, he was Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Cincinnati, specializing in International Relations. His academic publications were in the fields of legislative behavior and African politics. During his career at CIA, Mr. Helgerson worked primarily in the Agency's analytic components, focusing on the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. He served as Assistant National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia, Deputy Director of Near Eastern and South Asian Analysis, and Director of African and Latin American Analysis. In more recent years, Mr. Helgerson served as Associate Deputy Director for Intelligence, Director of Congressional Affairs, and-from 1989 to 1993-Deputy Director for Intelligence," his White House profile states.[9]

On August 3, 2001, Helgerson was named as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council by then DCI George J. Tenet. At the time, Helgerson was serving as Deputy Director of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA). "Helgerson is a career CIA officer who was assigned as Deputy Director of NIMA in March 2000. He began his Agency career as an intelligence analyst and later headed units responsible for coverage of Russia, Europe, Africa, and Latin America," the CIA's news release stated.[10]


Related SourceWatch articles


  1. "Helgerson to be CIA Inspector General," Association of Former Intelligence Officers Weekly, March 4, 2002.
  2. Amanda Terkel, "Top CIA Legal Official Quit In Protest Of Bush Administration’s Torture Policies," Think Progress, October 12, 2007.
  3. "Inspector General Cites Pre-9/11 CIA Failures," The Gate Blog/National Journal, August 22, 2007.
  4. Douglas Jehl, "Report Warned C.I.A. on Tactics In Interrogation," New York Times, November 9, 2005.
  5. Press Release: "Director's Statement on the Release of the 9/11 IG Report Executive Summary,", August 21, 2007.
  6. "Inspecting the Inspector," The Gate Blog/National Journal, October 12, 2007.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Greg Miller, "CIA investigates conduct of its inspector general," Los Angeles Times, October 12, 2007.
  8. Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane, "Watchdog of C.I.A. Is Subject of C.I.A. Inquiry," New York Times, October 11, 2007.
  9. "The President & His Leadership Team": John L. Helgerson,, accessed October 13, 2007.
  10. Press Release: "DCI Names Chairman of the National Intelligence Council,", August 3, 2001.

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