CIA counterterrorism officers have signed up in growing numbers for a government-reimbursed, private insurance plan that would pay their civil judgments and legal expenses if they are sued or charged with criminal wrongdoing, according to current and former intelligence officials and others with knowledge of the program.
The new enrollments reflect heightened anxiety at the CIA that officers may be vulnerable to accusations they were involved in abuse, torture, human rights violations and other misconduct, including wrongdoing related to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. They worry that they will not have Justice Department representation in court or congressional inquiries, the officials said.
The anxieties stem partly from public controversy about a system of secret CIA prisons in which detainees were subjected to harsh interrogation methods, including temperature extremes and simulated drowning. The White House contends the methods were legal, but some CIA officers have worried privately that they may have violated international law or domestic criminal statutes.
Details of the rough interrogations could come to light if trials are held for any of the approximately 100 detainees who were held in the prisons. President Bush announced last week that he had transferred the last 14 detainees in the facilities to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and had submitted a proposal to Congress for the rules under which the administration would like the suspects to be tried.