CIA: We Only Spied On Senate Intelligence Committee Because They Took Classified Documents That Prove We're Liars

from the good-luck-with-that dept

Earlier this week, we wrote about the accusations that the CIA was spying on Senate staffers on the Senate Intelligence Committee as they were working on a massive $40 million, 6,300-page report condemning the CIA’s torture program. The DOJ is apparently already investigating if the CIA violated computer hacking laws in spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee computers. The issue revolved around a draft of an internal review by the CIA, which apparently corroborates many of the Senate report’s findings — but which the CIA did not hand over to the Senate. This internal report not only supports the Senate report’s findings, but also shows that the CIA has been lying in response to questions about the terror program.

In response to all of this, it appears that the CIA is attempting, weakly, to spin this as being the Senate staffers’ fault, arguing that the real breach was the fact that the Senate staffers somehow broke the rules in obtaining that internal review. CIA boss John Brennan’s statement hints at the fact that he thinks the real problem was with the way the staffers acted, suggesting that an investigation would fault “the legislative” branch (the Senate) rather than the executive (the CIA).

In his statement on Wednesday Brennan hit back in unusually strong terms. “I am deeply dismayed that some members of the Senate have decided to make spurious allegations about CIA actions that are wholly unsupported by the facts,” Brennan said.

“I am very confident that the appropriate authorities reviewing this matter will determine where wrongdoing, if any, occurred in either the executive branch or legislative branch,” Brennan continued, raising a suggestion that the Senate committee itself might have acted improperly.

A further report detailed what he’s talking about. Reporters at McClatchy have revealed that the Senate staffers working on this came across the document, printed it out, and simply walked out of the CIA and over to the Senate with it, and the CIA is furious about that. Then, in a moment of pure stupidity, the CIA appears to have confronted the Senate Intelligence Committee about all of this… directly revealing that they were spying on the Committee staffers.

Several months after the CIA submitted its official response to the committee report, aides discovered in the database of top-secret documents at CIA headquarters a draft of an internal review ordered by former CIA Director Leon Panetta of the materials released to the panel, said the knowledgeable person.

They determined that it showed that the CIA leadership disputed report findings that they knew were corroborated by the so-called Panetta review, said the knowledgeable person.

The aides printed the material, walked out of CIA headquarters with it and took it to Capitol Hill, said the knowledgeable person.

“All this goes back to what is the technical structure here,” said the U.S. official who confirmed the unauthorized removal. “If I was a Senate staffer and I was given access to documents on the system, I would have a laptop that’s cleared. I would be allowed to look at these documents. But with these sorts of things, there’s generally an agreement that you can’t download or take them.”

The CIA discovered the security breach and brought it to the committee’s attention in January, leading to a determination that the agency recorded the staffers’ use of the computers in the high-security research room, and then confirmed the breach by reviewing the usage data, said the knowledgeable person.

There are many more details in the McClatchy report, which I highly recommend reading. And, yes, perhaps there’s an argument that Senate staffers weren’t supposed to take such documents, but the CIA trying to spin this by saying it was those staffers who were engaged in “wrongdoing” is almost certainly going to fall flat with Congress. After all, the intelligence committee is charged with oversight of the CIA, not the other way around. “You stole the documents we were hiding from you which proved we were lying, so we spied on you to find out how you did that” is not, exactly, the kind of argument that too many people are going to find compelling.

Still, the latest is that the CIA has successfully convinced the DOJ to have the FBI kick off an investigation of the Senate staffers, rather than of the CIA breaking the law and spying on their overseers.

Of course, the CIA may still have one advantage on its side: there are still some in Congress who are so supportive of the intelligence community itself that even they will make excuses for the CIA spying on their own staff. At least that seems to be the response from Senate Intelligence vice chair Senator Saxby Chambliss, one of the most ardent defenders of the intelligence community he’s supposed to be watching over. When asked about all of this, he seemed to be a lot more concerned about the staffers supposedly taking “classified” documents than about the CIA spying on those staffers:

“I have no comment. You should talk to those folks that are giving away classified information and get their opinion,” Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) said when asked about the alleged intrusions.

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Comments on “CIA: We Only Spied On Senate Intelligence Committee Because They Took Classified Documents That Prove We're Liars”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Proper channels...

So I really can’t help but find funny their supposed ‘anger’ over the printing out and sharing of those documents, or at least their laughable attempts to blame the anger on the fact that classified documents were shared when they shouldn’t have, rather than the fact those those documents exposed their lying.

Had they done the ‘proper’ thing and notified those involved, the CIA and the Intelligence Committee, without having evidence to back up their claims, given we’re talking about a report showing how the CIA was lying to the Intelligence Committee, the same committee that was supposed to be providing oversight on the CIA’s actions, do they really expect anyone to buy the idea that they would have just gone ‘Oh, you got us, yeah, we’ve been lying to you this whole time, here’s the real information you’ve been looking for’?

Yeah, not likely.

Instead, they most likely would have buried the report, and then when the committee came calling, tried to bury them with an avalanche of excuses along the lines of ‘it’s classified’ and/or ‘no such report can be found(and even if it could, it would still be classified beyond your clearance)’.

Jay (profile) says:

Talking is a free action..

” ?I have no comment. You should talk to those folks that are giving away classified information and get their opinion,? Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) said when asked about the alleged intrusions.”

Yes… Let’s put Dianne Feinstein on line one for exposing more information than even Edward Snowden thanks to showing how these programs weren’t about terrorism.

We should thank her for her boasts…

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Momma's widom

I seem to remember my mother telling me that “two wrongs don’t make a right”.

If the staffers violated the law by taking the documents, fine, investigate and prosecute them. But what the CIA can’t do is justify their own lawbreaking based on the “but they broke the law” excuse.

The CIA should be investigated and prosecuted with exactly as much fervor as the staffers.

john says:

Re: Momma's widom

They didn’t break the law, they broke regulations – this is different. They also broke it under the Constitutional authority of Congress to directly support it Constitutional responsibility of Executive branch oversight to ensure the Executive branch follows the law. Since the Constitution is the highest law of the land, there was only one wrong — the CIA hiding a relevant document from their Constitutional oversight.

Anonymous Coward says:

The whole point of using computers in a secure room inside the CIA, was to access classified information in a secure setting.

Basically the CIA is telling it’s overseers, “You can only access the classified information we want you to access.”

Am I the only one who thinks it’s ridiculous, that the organization being audited, is telling the auditors what they can and cannot do?


Anonymous Coward says:

The CIA is butt hurt over this. They’ve been able to tie up that report that shows they are at fault, illegal, and aware of this. So the congressional investigation committee finds evidence of this being so.

What is so totally being ignored here in this CIA response, is that the intelligence committee has the power to over rule the security classification of documents. They can claim the knowledge of this particular top secret or what ever document is in the interest of the US public to know and then print it up and pass it out. There is nothing the CIA can do should they do that as that is within their power to do.

Reality bites (profile) says:

They are all guilty..... put them in the fema camps

The government have built all those nice fema camps, would be a pity for them to go to waste.

Everything federal goes in the fema pen, every 3 letter agency, every contractor every single one of the parasitic lifeforms.

The National Stasi Association in Utah gets a 100ft wall build around it and filled with water for a new water attraction. Glass bottom boats could view the traitor monument.

It might just be easier to build a wall around DC too.

David says:

Re: They are all guilty..... put them in the fema camps

It might just be easier to build a wall around DC too.

Money will find a way.

Drown one corrupt government, and the next will stand up.

Until politicians are prohibited to take any money apart from their tax-provided salary, they’ll work against the public interest.

And probably couple their salary to minimum wage, too.

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