CIA Confirms Staff Inappropriately Accessed Senate Investigators’ Computers; Director Apologizes
By Niels Lesniewski
Posted at noon today
The inspector general at the CIA has determined agency personnel gained inappropriate access to computers used by Senate investigators probing torture during the George W. Bush administration.
McClatchy first reported on the results of the investigation Thursday morning, which will likely increase tensions between the intelligence community and overseers on Capitol Hill.
Dean Boyd, a CIA spokesperson, confirmed the news in a statement to CQ Roll Call.
“Director [John O.] Brennan was briefed on the CIA OIG’s findings, which include a judgment that some CIA employees acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding reached between SSCI and the CIA in 2009 regarding access to [a secure network],” Boyd said. “The Director subsequently informed the SSCI Chairman and Vice Chairman of the findings and apologized to them for such actions by CIA officers as described in the OIG report.”
“The Director is committed to correcting any shortcomings related to this matter and, to that end he is commissioning an Accountability Board at CIA, which will be chaired by former Senator and SSCI member Evan Bayh,” Boyd said. “This Board will review the OIG report, conduct interviews as needed, and provide the Director with recommendations that, depending on its findings, could include potential disciplinary measures and/or steps to address systemic issues.”
Bayh retired from Senate service at the conclusion of the 111th Congress.
The revelation validates a bombshell claim made back in March by Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., on the Senate floor. In a speech, Feinstein said the CIA had snooped on computers used at a secure facility by committee staff researching for a report on the use of torture. The report is at the White House undergoing declassification review.
Last week, Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden said he was discussing with his colleagues a seldom-used Senate Intelligence Committee process that could force release of the report.
“Without prior notification or approval, CIA personnel had conducted a search — that was John Brennan’s word — of the committee computers at the offsite facility,” Feinstein said in March. “This search was not only of documents provided by the committee by the CIA but also a search of the stand-alone and walled-off committee network drive containing the committee’s own internal work product and communications.”
McClatchy reported that Feinstein and Intelligence Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., were briefed on the matter Tuesday by Brennan.