Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 5, 2015

Justice Department Declines to Open Probe of CIA ‘Spying’ on Senate (Updated)

Dianne Feinstein CIA spying department of justice senate. (CQ Roll Call/Tom Williams)

Feinstein (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:37 p.m. | The Justice Department is declining to open a formal investigation into the sparring between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA.

“The Department carefully reviewed the matters referred to us and did not find sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal investigation,” Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said in a statement.

Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., came to the floor in March to torch the intelligence agency and accuse it of spying on computers being used by her staff to investigate the George W. Bush-era torture program.

Approached entering a Democratic caucus luncheon, Feinstein told CQ Roll Call she was pleased with the news.

“I’m delighted to hear that. I think it’s the right thing, and I gather they have dropped both investigations,” Feinstein said. “So that’s that, and I couldn’t be happier.”

Feinstein expanded on her views in a written statement.

“I am pleased the Justice Department has decided not to open an investigation into Intelligence Committee staff. I believe this is the right decision and will allow the committee to focus on the upcoming release of its report on the CIA detention and interrogation program,” Feinstein said.

Sen. Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat who frequently splits from Feinstein on surveillance policy, expressed support for the Justice Department not investigating Senate staff, but had concerns about the decision to not investigate the spy agency.

“The Justice Department’s decision is troubling and draws a false equivalency between congressional staff fulfilling their constitutional obligations and an executive branch agency potentially breaking the law,” Udall said in a statement. “Independent oversight of our intelligence agencies is essential for the American people to trust what they’re doing to protect our national security. That’s why I strongly believe staff for the Senate Intelligence Committee broke no laws over the course of their study of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. The CIA’s unauthorized search, however, may well have violated multiple provisions of the Constitution, federal criminal statutes and [an executive order].”

There was a public back-and-forth between the Senate and the CIA, with charges that Senate staff improperly accessed documents and removed materials from the secure facility used for the review. The resulting report on torture programs is currently going through declassification review.

The CIA general counsel asked the Justice Department to investigate the allegations against the Senate staff, with Feinstein having called for a separate probe through the CIA’s inspector general. In addition, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., instructed the sergeant-at-arms to investigate the matter.

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  1. erick

    July 10, 2014
    12:58 p.m.

    The senate declined to push forward with the investigation of CIA abuses because the CIA knows where the senators kids go to school. The CIA would send a drone plane to kill all the school children at the school where the senators kids are if the senate dares to investigate the CIA.

    • Layla

      July 10, 2014
      2:30 p.m.

      I am beginning to wonder…. Have never seen a Congress fold so quickly.

      • stevenharnack

        July 11, 2014
        4:04 p.m.

        I imagine that most everything makes you wonder because you don’t seem to have a grasp of anything.

    • Derrick Schnur

      July 11, 2014
      12:54 a.m.

      I don’t know about that, but you can bet there is a lot more going on behind the scenes that we are unaware of. I’m almost certain there is some blackmail going on here on the part of the CIA. They have dug up some dirt of their own against the people investigating them. This country seems beyond repair in recent months. All politicians need to be replaced. Change the laws so that politics cannot be a career job. With the internet giving each citizen a voice, why then do we need politicians at all? If the internet can be secured, then I don’t see why citizens cannot make the necessary decisions. The people that carry out such decisions are already in place. We could streamline the process and reduce the numbers of employees, force the employees to work more efficiently and handle more responsibility for their existing wage rate. Something must change, and soon. Both Democrats and Republicans are equally to blame for many reasons. They are out of touch with reality and the average American. They are like children that have not been taught to negotiate, instead, they would rather impede progress. These individuals do not set a good example for children who witness such behavior while growing up, and they wonder why the problem has gotten to where it is at this very moment!

      • JohnnyAngel Advocacy Group

        July 11, 2014
        6:40 a.m.

        Citizens making decisions put this country where it is today. Just outlaw any ACTIONS taken by citizens to subvert the United States such as radical Islam and Communist revolutionairies. Unfortunately, we have a Presidente’ who believes in both

        • stevenharnack

          July 11, 2014
          4:02 p.m.

          So does our Constitution. Plus it’s rather difficult to make ideas illegal. I can’t really tell if you like “citizens making decisions” which would mean you approve of where we are today, or whether you’re saying that you want a dictatorship?

  2. Layla

    July 10, 2014
    1:48 p.m.

    This Congress, this administration must go. We have an election in November, VOTE THEM OUT.

  3. JohnnyAngel Advocacy Group

    July 11, 2014
    6:36 a.m.

    This womyn is a COMMUNISTA, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. DO NOT BE FOOLED

  4. Alice Boxstrom

    July 13, 2014
    4 a.m.

    That collectivism unleashes evil is proven by the history of dictators claiming that the society’s well-being depends upon its subjugation.

  5. Jasmine An'deez

    July 15, 2014
    8:27 a.m.

    Confusion regarding the term liberty may also arise from the observation that people can be “slaves to their emotions” and thus unable to make smart decisions.

  6. Chris Erickson Special Forces

    Aug. 27, 2014
    5:31 p.m.

    I am so surprised that Eric Holder’s Department of “Justice” is again hiding crimes committed by the current regime…

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  9. Anonymous

    July 3, 2015
    7:19 a.m.

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