Did the CIA spy on the Senate?

John Brennan
CIA Director nominee John Brennan, flanked by security, arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, to testify at his confirmation hearing…
Photo by J. Scott Applewhite
When it comes to checks and balances with intelligence agencies, responsible oversight is key. But it’s important to remember that in the American system of government, Congress has oversight authority over the Central Intelligence Agency – and it’s not supposed to be the other way around.
The CIA Inspector General’s Office has asked the Justice Department to investigate allegations of malfeasance at the spy agency in connection with a yet-to-be released Senate Intelligence Committee report into the CIA’s secret detention and interrogation program, McClatchy has learned.
 
The criminal referral may be related to what several knowledgeable people said was CIA monitoring of computers used by Senate aides to prepare the study. The monitoring may have violated an agreement between the committee and the agency.
This won’t exactly bolster the spy agency’s reputation, following some high-profile missteps, which Rachel highlighted on last night’s show.
 
At issue in a Senate investigation into the CIA’s interrogation policies and whether the agency provided false information about the possible use of torture. The report, which is complete but still classified, apparently represents a sweeping indictment against the CIA’s policies.
The committee determined earlier this year that the CIA monitored computers – in possible violation of an agreement against doing so – that the agency had provided to intelligence committee staff in a secure room at CIA headquarters that the agency insisted they use to review millions of pages of top-secret reports, cables and other documents, according to people with knowledge.
 
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, a panel member, apparently was referring to the monitoring when he asked CIA Director John Brennan at a Jan. 9 hearing if provisions of the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act “apply to the CIA? Seems to me that’s a yes or no answer.”
 
Brennan replied that he’d have to get back to Wyden after looking into “what the act actually calls for and it’s applicability to CIA’s authorities.”
This McClatchy report is on the CIA’s Inspector General’s office asking the Justice Department to launch an investigation, but this article comes on the heels of a related New York Times piece published yesterday.
 
In it, Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) acknowledged that the investigation is ongoing. Asked about the tension between her committee and the CIA, which it oversees, Feinstein said, “Our oversight role will prevail.”
 
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Did the CIA spy on the Senate?