An effective system of institutionalized whistle blowing exists in most federal agencies, through inspectors general charged with rooting out waste and corruption.
But the Central Intelligence Agency, where secrecy that can promote inefficiency and misbehavior is a way of life, has not had an inspector general for 14 months.
The last CIA inspector general, John Helgerson, was just the kind of fiercely independent, nonpartisan watchdog taxpayers need. During former President George W. Bush's administration, it was Helgerson who revealed problems in U.S. handling of prisoners taken in the campaign against terrorism.
But Helgerson left the post in March 2009. President Barack Obama's administration has yet to replace him.White House sources have told journalists a nominee is being sought for the position. The process needs to be accelerated - as top-ranking members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, both Democrat and Republican, have urged.
Obama should instruct his aides to make the CIA inspector general nomination a priority. Fourteen months is far too long for an agency such as the CIA to be monitored by an interim inspector general.
The White House should work for the same level of scrutiny provided during the Bush administration.