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Ex-CIA IG: Helgerson 'Extremely Fair'

But it's a serious matter. The danger here is that Helgerson now appears like he's lost the confidence of Hayden -- and that's a liability for any inspector general in pursuing his duties. "It makes the IG's job a lot worse in terms of making people cooperate and be candid and so forth," Snider says. "You have all kinds of statutes in place, but it comes down to people's willingness to cooperate with an investigation. Hayden needs to reiterate and reaffirm his support for the IG function, and this seems to cut against that." If he doesn't, Helgerson's options aren't that numerous: he can either resign or seek the support of the House and Senate intelligence committees, both of which have been lukewarm to news of the Helgerson inquiry.

Perversely, if Hayden is actually investigating Helgerson's substantive work -- as opposed to just making a power move designed to muscle him out of office -- he may need Helgerson's cooperation. CIA management would need to see Helgerson's internal files and interviews with agency employees in order to determine his fairness and competence. "I don't know how to investigate the IG without him agreeing to it," Snider says. In other words, Helgerson's situation may actually get even more uncomfortable than it currently is.