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April 24, 2014

Posts in "Intelligence"

April 7, 2014

Reid Takes Umbrage at Former CIA Chief Calling Feinstein ‘Emotional’

feinstein002 031114 330x231 Reid Takes Umbrage at Former CIA Chief Calling Feinstein Emotional

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev, dismissed comments from former Central Intelligence Agency Chief Michael Hayden calling Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., “emotional” regarding a panel report on CIA interrogation.

“This woman has been an outstanding leader of that Intelligence Committee,” Reid said in response to the comments on the Senate floor. “She has been fearless, she has been thorough and fair. And for this man to say that because she criticizes tactics led by Gen. Hayden that was torture she’s being too emotional. I don’t think so. Does this sound like a person or a party that respects women? I don’t think so.”

Reid’s comments were prompted by Hayden’s interview on Fox News Sunday when the issue of a classified committee report on CIA interrogation was discussed. Full story

April 3, 2014

Intelligence Committee Votes to Declassify CIA Report (Updated)

Updated 4:48 p.m. | The Senate Intelligence Committee voted 11-3 Thursday to declassify portions of the committee’s voluminous investigation into the CIA’s detention and interrogation programs, after the White House indicated President Barack Obama wanted the public to get a chance to read it.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the White House had not yet read all of the report but said President Barack Obama supports its release.

“He wants the report declassified so the public can see it,” Carney said, noting that Obama shut down many of the CIA’s practices when he took office.

Full story

April 2, 2014

Collins, King Join in Backing Report on CIA Torture

Collins King 05 111312 1 445x304 Collins, King Join in Backing Report on CIA Torture

( Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Mainers are well represented in the secretive world of the Senate Intelligence Committee, as Wednesday proved.

Before making a joint announcement that they would support the effort of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to release portions of the Intelligence panel’s report on the CIA’s use of torture, Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Independent Angus King discussed the decision extensively between themselves.

“Both of us spent a great deal of time reviewing the report, the CIA’s rebuttal, interviewing the staff authors, talking to the minority staff, and we actually set up a separate briefing for ourselves with CIA officials,” Collins said. “That was very helpful in educating us on the issues.”

Full story

April 1, 2014

Intelligence Director Appears to Concede NSA Searched Communications (Video)

clapper081613 445x305 Intelligence Director Appears to Concede NSA Searched Communications (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Security Agency may have read your communications, albeit under limited circumstances.

That seems to be the takeaway of a newly-released letter from Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. to noted NSA skeptic Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

“There have been queries, using U.S. person identifiers, of communications lawfully acquired to obtain foreign intelligence by targeting non U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located outside the U.S. pursuant to Section 702 of FISA,” Clapper wrote in a March 28 letter to Wyden.

Full story

March 21, 2014

Senate’s Top Law Enforcement Officer Confirms Progress on Investigation Into CIA Spying

Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance W. Gainer said Friday that his staff has “absolutely” begun investigating the controversy involving the CIA and the Intelligence Committee.

The investigation — disclosed by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in a letter sent to CIA Director John O. Brennan late Wednesday — will be one of Gainer’s last tasks before he leaves Capitol Hill for the private sector at the end of April.

Gainer confirmed during a phone interview with CQ Roll Call that his office is proceeding with instructions to review computers used by committee staffers to investigate the CIA’s interrogation techniques and detainee practices during the George W. Bush administration.

“Some of it will be done in-house and some of it will be contracted out,” he said of the investigation. “It’s not the first time that we’ve done forensic work on a computer, remember … that’s a large part of our organization.”

As sergeant-at-arms, Gainer serves as the chamber’s top law enforcement officer, overseeing all aspects of security, including cyber threats.

“But, there are experts who do this day-in and day-out, and there is no doubt that we’ll get help from others on this,” he continued.

Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., first revealed her suspicions in a stirring March 11 floor speech, in which she alleged the CIA had interfered at the secret facility set up in Northern Virginia for the committee’s investigation.

Reid has also raised concerns about the broader implications of the CIA’s actions, a fact he mentioned in his letter.

Gainer said he spends a “substantial portion” of each day on security issues — coordinating with the House, the Capitol Police and other federal agencies — and this investigation is his newest task.

March 20, 2014

Reid Orders Probe of CIA Spying, Warns of ‘Intelligence Community Run Amok’

reid 083 121813 445x327 Reid Orders Probe of CIA Spying, Warns of Intelligence Community Run Amok

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has asked Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer to investigate how Intelligence Committee staff gained access to a report at the heart of the standoff between the CIA and the Senate.

The Nevada Democrat disclosed in a letter to CIA Director John O. Brennan that he was asking Gainer “to initiate a forensic examination of the computers and computer network assigned for exclusive [Senate Select Committee on Intelligence] use.”

The staff of the the Intelligence Committee was investigating the CIA’s use of interrogation techniques and detainee policies during the George W. Bush administration.

Full story

March 19, 2014

Holder Acknowledges DOJ Review of CIA Spying Allegations

holder 019 060613 445x289 Holder Acknowledges DOJ Review of CIA Spying Allegations

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Justice Department is reviewing allegations made by the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee accusing each other of improper activity.

Asked about the matter on Wednesday, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., stopped short of calling the Justice Department’s involvement an investigation.

“We get referrals all the time. The fact that we get a referral does not necessarily mean we make a decision that we’re going to investigate on the basis of that referral,” Holder said at a news conference. “And so, we are looking at the matters that have been referred to us before we make any determinations about what action, if any, the Justice Department will take.”

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 11:46 a.m.
Intelligence

March 13, 2014

Top Intelligence Appropriator Blasts CIA, Wants Torture Report Released

Senate Luncheons 30 052113 445x289 Top Intelligence Appropriator Blasts CIA, Wants Torture Report Released

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

CIA Director John O. Brennan is facing new pressure from the Senate Democrat in charge of the agency’s secret budget.

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, who doubles as the chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, sent a lengthy missive Thursday to Brennan backing concerns raised by Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and calling for declassification of a torture report prepared by the Intelligence panel.

Departing the Capitol just before a trip to Ukraine Thursday afternoon, Durbin was asked if he might use his power of the purse to try to push the issue forward.

“I won’t rule that out,” Durbin told CQ Roll Call.

The text of the letter to Brennan appears below:

Full story

Amid Spying Debate, Senate Confirms Top CIA Lawyer

The Senate granted swift confirmation to a new CIA general counsel Thursday, in effect taking authority from an official now known to have ties to the agency’s past detention and interrogation program.

Caroline Krass will take over for an acting official, reportedly named Robert Eatinger, who Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., revealed in a floor speech Tuesday — though not by name — had referred a matter to the Justice Department involving Senate staff actions in the probe of CIA interrogations.

It’s the acting general counsel’s action that seems to have precipitated Feinstein’s acknowledgement of alleged improper spying on the committee’s files by the CIA.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., who has previously signaled an intent to delay the Krass confirmation while seeking answers from the CIA, explained Thursday the hold was lifted to get a new leader in the post. The confirmation vote was 95 to 4. Full story

March 12, 2014

Chambliss Declines to Back Feinstein’s CIA Charges, May Call for Special Investigator (Video)

The top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee refused to endorse Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein’s explosive allegations of CIA spying on the committee, telling the Senate on Wednesday that a special investigator may be needed to get to the truth.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia said in a Senate floor speech that Republicans were not part of the committee’s investigation on CIA enhanced interrogation and therefore don’t know whether the agency spied on the panel as it was conducting its review.

Full story

Obama Wants to Avoid Crossfire Between CIA and Senate

President Barack Obama wants to stay out of the feud between the Senate Intelligence Committee and his own CIA.

“With respect to the issues that are going back and forth between the Senate committee and the CIA, John Brennan has referred them to the appropriate authorities and they are looking into it and that’s not something that is an appropriate role for me and the White House to wade into at this point,” Obama said Wednesday.

While the matter’s been referred to the Justice Department, one senior GOP senator has raised the prospect of needing a special prosecutor.

Obama’s first public comments came one day after a remarkable floor speech by Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in which she indicated the CIA improperly conducted surveillance on computer files used by committee staff investigating the agency’s interrogation policies during the George W. Bush administration. CIA Director John O. Brennan denied the alleged spying by his agency on the Senate.

Full story

March 11, 2014

Reid Disappointed CIA Unrepentant, Backs Feinstein

reid031114 445x298 Reid Disappointed CIA Unrepentant, Backs Feinstein

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D- Nev., said he is disappointed that the CIA is showing no contrition for allegedly spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee, but he held off on calling for immediate Senate action.

“I support [Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.,] unequivocally and I’m disappointed that the CIA is apparently unrepentant for what I understand they did,” Reid said after the weekly party lunches Tuesday. Full story

Brennan Denies CIA Spied on Senate; Graham Calls Allegations Nixonian (Video)

brennan007 013113 427x335 Brennan Denies CIA Spied on Senate; Graham Calls Allegations Nixonian (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

CIA Director John O. Brennan denied that the agency snooped on the Senate Intelligence Committee, even as one leading Republican compared the allegation to something straight out of the Nixon administration.

“First of all, there’s never been an effort by the CIA to thwart the SSCI’s investigation. They have their Congressional oversight responsibilities,” Brennan told NBC News. “We’ve worked with them over the past year on their report, and we look forward to working with them in the future.”

SSCI is a common acronym for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Brennan’s comments came in response to a scathing floor speech by that panel’s chairwoman, California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, in which she accused the CIA of improperly searching computer systems and drives used by committee staff in developing a report on interrogation methods used during the George W. Bush administration.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 12:55 p.m.
Intelligence

Read Feinstein’s Full Speech Blasting the CIA (Updated) (Video)

Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein on Tuesday accused the CIA of spying on her committee’s computers without authorization — in possible violation of the law and the Constitution — and suggested the CIA may have also tried to engage in an effort to intimidate her staff.

Here is her full floor statement:

Over the past week, there have been numerous press articles written about the Intelligence Committee’s oversight review of the Detention and Interrogation Program of the CIA, specifically press attention has focused on the CIA’s intrusion and search of the Senate Select Committee’s computers as well as the committee’s acquisition of a certain internal CIA document known as the Panetta Review. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 11:18 a.m.
Intelligence

Feinstein: CIA Spied on Intelligence Committee (Updated) (Video)

feinstein002 031114 445x312 Feinstein: CIA Spied on Intelligence Committee (Updated) (Video)

Feinstein walks off the Senate floor Tuesday morning. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 5:27 p.m. | The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee torched the CIA in a floor speech Tuesday, charging the agency with spying on her committee’s computers in a possibly illegal search she said has been referred to the Department of Justice for possible prosecution.

The on-the-record allegations by Sen. Dianne Feinstein shook the Senate, with lawmakers in both parties warning of serious fallout if proved true. And her speech put the Department of Justice and the White House in an awkward spot between CIA Director John O. Brennan, who later denied the allegation of spying, and Feinstein, who has been a strong backer of the intelligence community generally and of President Barack Obama.

During her speech, the California Democrat said she learned from Brennan in a Jan. 15 meeting that the CIA improperly searched committee computer files as the committee neared the end of its yearslong investigation of the CIA’s interrogation and detainee practices, confirming several media reports. She said the incident has been referred to the Department of Justice. But Feinstein was also riled by a separate referral by the CIA to Justice suggesting that committee staff had improperly received classified information.

The California Democrat called that referral “a potential effort to intimidate this staff” and called the matter “a defining moment” for whether the Congress would be able to provide oversight of the intelligence community.
Full story

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