Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 2, 2015

Mark Udall: ‘CIA Tried to Intimidate the Intelligence Committee’ (Updated)

Updated 9:35 p.m. | Colorado Democrat Mark Udall will continue to seek answers to questions in connection to the nomination of Caroline Krass to be CIA general counsel until receiving answers.

There is not yet a technical hold, but it would be difficult to see Krass winning quick confirmation without responses to Udall about CIA interrogation programs.

“The CIA tried to intimidate the Intelligence Committee, plain and simple,” Udall said. “I’m going to keep fighting like hell to ensure that the CIA never dodges congressional oversight again.”

Sen. Ron Wyden, a kindred spirit on these issues, said he expected Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to provide what he called “additional information” about new allegations of CIA monitoring of computers used by committee staff.

“What I will tell you is that at the worldwide threat hearing, which is an open hearing, I thought it was important to ask Director Brennan, the head of the CIA, whether or not the computer fraud statute applied to the agency,” Wyden said. “He has indicated now to me in writing that it does.

“I think it is a huge challenge in terms of vigorous oversight, because of course there are very substantial threats to our country,” Wyden said.

“There is a deeply embedded culture of misinformation among the intelligence leadership. I’m not talking about the rank and file, I’m talking about the intelligence leadership,” Wyden said. “Here we are about a year after I asked the Director [of National Intelligence] James Clapper, whether or not the government collected any kind of information at all on millions of Americans, and as of today the director or his representatives have given at least five different explanations for the answer that he gave.”

“I feel very strongly that reformers are going to have to keep at it until we root out this culture of disinformation,” he said.

CIA Director John O. Brennan issued a statement late Wednesday urging caution, likely in response to statements by Udall and other senators.

“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. 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 said. “Until then, I would encourage others to refrain from outbursts that do a disservice to the important relationship that needs to be maintained between intelligence officials and Congressional overseers.”

Clarification:

This post has been clairified to explain that there is not a formal hold on the nomination in question, but the nominee could still face delays.

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