The spat between the CIA and its Senate overseers has intensified with open sparring in public. On Tuesday, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein took to the Senate floor to directly accuse the CIA of spying on Senate staffers and their computers in an effort to undermine the panel’s exhaustive report on the agency’s torture and rendition program. The report has yet to be released but reportedly documents extensive abuses and a cover-up by CIA officials. In her remarks, Feinstein said the CIA’s spying broke federal laws and violated the Constitution.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein: "I have grave concerns that the CIA’s search may well have violated the separation-of-powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution, including the speech and debate clause. It may have undermined the constitutional framework essential to effective congressional oversight of intelligence activities or any other government function. I have asked for an apology and a recognition that this CIA search of computers used by its oversight committee was inappropriate. I have received neither."
According to Feinstein, the CIA may also have violated the 4th Amendment, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and an executive order barring it from domestic surveillance. Feinstein also says the CIA tried to spur a Justice Department investigation to thwart the panel’s report. At a public event nearby in Washington, CIA Director John Brennan rejected Feinstein’s allegations.
CIA Director John Brennan: "As far as the allegations of, you know, the CIA hacking into, you know, Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth. I mean, we wouldn’t do that. I mean, that’s — that’s just beyond the — you know, the scope of reason in terms of what we would do. … When the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong."
Despite Brennan’s denials, the CIA’s own inspector general has referred the spying to the Justice Department for potential criminal investigation.