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Obama taps former spy as CIA watchdog

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After more than a year without a top watchdog, the CIA has a nominee to lead its Office of Inspector General. President Obama announced the nomination of attorney and onetime CIA operative Shirley Woodward on June 16. The appointment came on the same day that CIA Director John Brennan was quizzed by lawmakers about the absence of a Senate-confirmed agency minder.

Woodward has been a partner at the prestigious D.C. law firm WilmerHale for the past six years. She came to private law practice after a clerkship for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Woodward also brings serious national security experience to the job. She spent 12 years inside the CIA as an intelligence operations officer. She was associate general counsel and chief Iraq investigator for the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the U.S. Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction from 2004-2005.

The IG post has been vacant since David Buckley retired in February 2015. Since that time, Christopher Sharpley has been serving as IG on an acting basis.

In a rare open hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) asked Brennan about the longtime vacancy, and Brennan hinted that some news could be forthcoming.

"I think this is…one of the most important positions in government, particularly in the intelligence agencies, which don't have the oversight that other more public agencies do," King said.

The relationship between the CIA IG and Congress has been on shaky ground of late. According to press reports, the IG's office deleted, purportedly by accident, one of just a few electronic copies of a classified Senate report on torture of terror suspects at CIA-run secret sites overseas. In a May 2016 letter, committee vice chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) requested that the OIG be furnished with a new electronic copy of the report for its own oversight purposes.

The Intelligence Committee will hold hearings on the nomination before a vote of the full Senate.

Posted by Aisha Chowdhry on Jun 17, 2016 at 3:27 PM


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