Ex-senator to guide CIA investigation
WASHINGTON - CIA Director Leon E. Panetta has tapped former Republican senator Warren B. Rudman as a special adviser, turning to a respected politician to help guide the agency through a congressional investigation of the CIA's interrogation program.
The decision is an unusual step for the CIA, which has faced similar probes in recent years without enlisting high-profile help. But the move reflects a recognition of the stakes of a Senate inquiry into one of the CIA's most controversial programs in recent years, as well as its director's political instincts.
Panetta, a former California congressman and chief of staff to President Clinton, said in a statement that he had tapped Rudman, 78, because "he knows intelligence and counterterrorism, and he has a strong, bipartisan reputation."
It was not clear whether Rudman would serve as the main point of contact for the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting the investigation, or be an internal adviser to Panetta.
A CIA spokesman said Rudman would not be paid.
Former CIA officials said they could not recall a similar arrangement but added the agency had been stripped of authority in recent years after previous investigations documented major CIA failures leading up to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the war in Iraq.
The decision to enlist Rudman is "unusual, there's no doubt about that," said Britt Snider, former CIA inspector general. "But you've got a guy who is well respected defending the agency, advocating for the agency. I think that does help."
Rudman, a former New Hampshire senator, was not available for comment.