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CIA officers seeking insurance to cover abuse allegations: WashPost

[JURIST] A large percentage of US Central Intelligence Agency [official website] counterterrorism officers have bought government-reimbursed private insurance plans [Wright backgrounder] that cover potential civil judgments and legal expenses associated with charges of criminal wrongdoing, according to Monday's Washington Post. Some current and former intelligence officers revealed the growing trend to the Post, highlighting fears that officers are vulnerable to accusations that they participated in alleged abuse or torture of terror detainees and that the US Department of Justice [official website] will not defend them. Though the Bush administration has insisted that harsh interrogation methods employed at military prisons and secret CIA prisons were legal [JURIST report], some CIA intelligence officers have apparently expressed concern that the methods may violate international law or US criminal statutes. Others fear that an internal CIA probe of wrongdoing related to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks [JURIST news archive] will spark a wave of accusations if details eventually become public. Accusations will likely also emerge when, and if, military tribunals [JURIST news archive] commence for terror detainees held in the US detention center at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive].

The insurance policies, provided by Arlington-based Wright and Co. [corporate website], a subsidiary of the private Special Agents Mutual Benefit Association [corporate website], will pay up to $200,000 towards legal expenses and up to $1 million to satisfy civil judgments. Though the government has reimbursed insurance policies for top CIA staff for years, Congress authorized reimbursement to all counterterrorism officers in 2001. The CIA general counsel advises CIA officers to consider the insurance program in light of the fact that the Justice Department will only defend officers if their conduct occurred in the course of their job duties and if the Justice Department finds the case in the government's interest. The Washington Post has more.

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