CIA Accidentally Releases Apology Letter It Wrote, But Never Sent To The Senate For Illegally Spying On It
from the sorry-not-sorry dept
Jason Leopold — terrorizer of FOIA staffers throughout the US government — has again obtained documents many would have expected to remain out of reach for years to come. Certainly, the CIA thought one of the documents would remain its little secret for the rest of whatever.
On July 28, 2014, the CIA director wrote a letter to senators Dianne Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss — the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee (SSCI) and the panel’s ranking Republican, respectively. In it, he admitted that the CIA’s penetration of the computer network used by committee staffers reviewing the agency’s torture program — a breach for which Feinstein and Chambliss had long demanded accountability — was improper and violated agreements the Intelligence Committee had made with the CIA.
The letter was never sent. Instead of an apology, the Senate received accusations of impropriety after the CIA threw out its Inspector General’s report on the breach and performed an in-house “investigation” clearing the CIA of wrongdoing.
The letter was never signed by Brennan or sent. It was filed away somewhere in the CIA’s archives, hopefully never to be seen again. But it was mistakenly handed over to Jason Leopold much to the CIA’s chagrin. Additional chagrinment ensued.
After VICE News received the documents, the CIA contacted us and said Brennan’s draft letter had been released by mistake. The agency asked that we refrain from posting it.
We declined the CIA’s request.
So, the CIA has yet to officially admit any wrongdoing (as in a document — such as the one it didn’t want released — entered into the public record), and yet, there’s an admission of guilt in the public’s hands. Makes it a bit harder to defend actions Senator Feinstein claimed violated pretty much everything that could be violated in a single act.
Feinstein wrote to Brennan on January 23, 2014 and told him she consulted with the Senate’s legal counsel, who informed her that the CIA’s search of the Senate’s computer network “may have been inconsistent with the separation of powers principles embodied in the Constitution and essential to effective congressional oversight of intelligence activities.”
“Second,” her letter continued, “the search may have violated the Fourth Amendment, the Speech and Debate Clause of the Constitution, various statutes (including federal criminal statutes, such as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and Executive Order 12333,” which says it’s unlawful for the CIA to conduct domestic spying.
In short, it appears that while some in the CIA knew what it did was clearly wrong (and potentially illegal), top management so insisted on denying it, that it wouldn’t even send an apology letter — and that would have stayed completely secret if someone hadn’t slipped up and handed over the unsigned letter accidentally in a FOIA response dump.