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- (FTW) - Britt Snider, the retired CIA inspector general
who had been chosen to head the Joint Senate-House Committee investigation
into the attacks of 9-11, resigned suddenly on April 30. Various press
reports offer mixed and vague explanations for the resignation that is
certain to delay any investigation into the attacks of Sept. 11. The Associated
Press reported Snider s resignation was triggered by a personnel decision
that had angered the ranking member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence,
Arkansas Republican Richard Shelby. The New York Times said Snider had
resigned under pressure. In a lengthier story, the Los Angeles Times reported
some on the panel feared Snider, who retired as CIA IG last year, would
go soft on his old friend, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet
and possibly protect colleagues at the CIA.
- Snider is no stranger to controversy. In July 1998, after
being appointed by President Clinton, he assumed the CIA IG post. In that
capacity he supervised the Oct. 8, 1998 release of an explosive report
prepared by his predecessor, Frederick Hitz, who now holds the Goldman
Sachs intelligence chair at Princeton. That report, [Volume II of the IG
s investigation into Allegations of Connections Between CIA and the Contras
in Cocaine Trafficking To The United States (96-0143-IG)], which examined
CIA s connection to drug trafficking during the Contra war of the 1980s,
is perhaps the single most incriminating document ever released by the
CIA. Wrapped inside innocuous cover letters and executive summaries, its
pages contain hundreds of admissions of criminal acts by the Agency in
protecting and facilitating drug trafficking operations. The report also
describes how CIA personnel regularly lied to Congress and briefed then-Vice
President George Bush on ways to misdirect congressional investigations.
- Until a replacement is named, Snider s deputy, Rick Cinquegrana,
will serve as head of the investigative staff which now numbers about 30.
Cinquegrana is not much of an improvement. Volume II reports that Cinquegrana,
while serving as the Justice Department s deputy counsel for intelligence
policy, was the point-man in 1981 negotiations for a Memorandum of Understanding
(MOU) between then-Attorney General William French-Smith and CIA director
William Casey, which told the CIA it no longer had to report drug trafficking
by any employees who were not officers in the Agency. This writer has used
the letter of transmittal for the MOU in lectures around the country to
demonstrate criminal complicity on the part of the Agency in the drug trade.
It contains the sentence, In light of these provisions, and in view of
the fine cooperation the Drug Enforcement Administration has received from
CIA, no formal requirement regarding the reporting of narcotics violation
has been included in these procedures.
- Volume II, which has never been fully or publicly examined
by Congress, was made public on the CIA s website just one hour after Henry
Hyde s House Judiciary Committee began the impeachment of Bill Clinton.
- As the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
(HPSCI) closed down their secret, closed-door investigations into CIA drug
trafficking in May 2000, several mysterious deaths followed. First the
staff director, John Millis, was the victim of an alleged suicide in June.
Then in November, Charles Ruff, Bill Clinton s point man on the impeachment
and reported liaison on the drug investigation, accidentally died in his
shower. Julian Dixon, the African-American ranking member of HPSCI died
of a sudden heart attack just weeks later.
- These are deep waters. Snider s sudden departure may
be a reflection of more trouble yet to come. Cinquegrana is definitely
not the man to be trusted with oversight of this investigation. But until
the American people can have confidence in an open investigation with some
degree of transparency, we might we look forward to and even expect more
delays and mysterious developments.