Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Tuesday revealed on the Senate floor that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had searched computers of the Senate Intelligence Committee staff in violation of the Constitution and law against computer fraud.
Feinstein said CIA Director John Brennan informed her in January that the agency had conducted a search of her committee’s computers at the CIA facility in an attempt to find the report of the panel’s review of the CIA’s defunct detention and interrogation program. The supposedly stand alone and walled-off computers were set up under a 2009 agreement between former CIA Director Leon Panetta and then Senate Intelligence panel Chairman Kit Bond (R-Mo.) to allow the committee staff to access CIA documents related to the agency’s interrogation techniques.
Feinstein also revealed that the CIA’s acting general counsel, who was mentioned 1,600 times in the panel’s report, filed a crimes report with the Department of Justice (DOJ) against the committee staff, who researched and drafted the report detailing how CIA officers, including the acting general counsel himself, fed the DOJ inaccurate information about the Bush-era detention and interrogation program. The senator accused the CIA acting general counsel, whom she did not name, of intimidating her staff by filing the crimes report.
Feinstein said she complained to Brennan in a Jan. 17 letter about the CIA investigation of the committee’s staffs and computers. In a subsequent letter, she asked why the computers were searched, what is the legal basis of the search, and who authorized it.
Brennan has denied his agency searched the senate panel’s computers. At an event at the Council on Foreign Relations Tuesday, he said “appropriate authorities” inside and outside the CIA are investigating what CIA officers and committee staffs did.
Feinstein said she and her committee will complete the report and have it declassified for release to the American people.