In March, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) revealed that CIA Director John Brennan told her that the intelligence agency he leads had improperly accessed Senate computers and secretly removed classified documents while the agency’s War on Terror interrogation tactics were under investigation. Feinstein alleged that Brennan told her the CIA took that action because the agency believed the Senate might have accessed documents that they were not authorized to see.
In a statement, Brennan said the Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman had leveled “spurious allegations about CIA actions that were wholly unsupported by the facts.” While he confessed that the agency had made mistakes, the CIA director insisted that there was no merit to the charge that the agency had spied on members of Congress. “As far as the allegations of CIA hacking into Senate computers — nothing could be further from the truth,” Brennan’s statement read.
CNN recounts Feinstein’s roiled reaction to charges against the CIA:
“The CIA did not ask the committee or its staff if the committee had access to the internal review or how we obtained it,” Feinstein said in blistering remarks on the Senate floor. “Instead, the CIA just went and searched the committee’s computer.”
The outrage over the CIA’s claimed abuse of authority was bipartisan. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called the allegations against the spy agency “dangerous to a democracy.”
“Heads should roll, people should go to jail, if it’s true,” Graham said at the time. “I’m going to get briefed on it. If it is, the legislative branch should declare war on the CIA, if it’s true.”
War, it would seem, is imminent.
On Thursday, the CIA admitted to secretly and improperly hacking Senate staffers’ computers linked to the internal review of the agency’s tactics under George W. Bush.
“CIA Director John Brennan has determined that employees ‘acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding’ brokered between the CIA and its Senate overseers, according to agency spokesman Dean Boyd,” National Journal reported. In the statement, Boyd apologized to the committee chair and vice chair who were misled by Brennan.
The Hill foreshadows a major turf battle brewing between the intelligence agency and Congress:
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), a member of the Intelligence Committee, quickly retorted on Twitter Thursday that the watchdog’s report “shows John Brennan misled [the] public, whose interests I have championed.
“I will fight for change at the CIA,” he added.