Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 16, 2014

McCain: ‘What Did the Director of the CIA Know and When Did He Know It?’

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham have joined the chorus expressing outrage at the bombshell confirmation that the CIA was snooping on the Senate.

The two senators indicated they looked forward to having conversations with colleagues over the August recess about a variety of responses, including congressional inquiries or a special prosecutor.

“This is to me [of] the utmost seriousness. What did the director of the CIA know and when did he know it?” McCain said.

Both senators blasted CIA Director John O. Brennan for having issued a public denial of the original allegations made by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Other senators have begun to call for the resignation of Brennan, as New Mexico Democrat Martin Heinrich did just after noon Friday on MSNBC.

The CIA conceded Thursday that it had, in fact, improperly accessed computers being used by Senate Intelligence Committee investigators to investigate the use of torture tactics during the George W. Bush administration.

“What action did he take if he knew about it, and if he didn’t know about it, why in the world didn’t he know that people under his direct responsibility were violating the fundamental barriers of constitutional authority and responsibility?” asked McCain. “If we don’t hold the director of the CIA responsible for this, then I don’t know … where responsibility could lie.”

Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said one key would be to make sure that the issue remains on the radar of fellow senators.

“The first thing you’ve got to do is to create desire. We’ve got to create desire among the body not to let this pass. We’ve got to create … desire to make sure that this apology is not the end of the inquiry here, because of the ramifications that Sen. McCain indicated,” Graham said.

“There needs to be an objective investigation composed of individuals that have the trust and confidence of the American people. Now exactly what that is, I think we should discuss,” McCain said. “I am a great admirer of my former colleague Sen. [Evan] Bayh, but an accountability review board is not appropriate for an issue of this magnitude.”

The CIA said Thursday that Bayh, an ex-Democratic senator from Indiana, would head up a review.

“I’ve never believed that an agency of government, particularly with the capabilities of the CIA, would carry out such actions, which is a clearly unconstitutional … in some ways it’s worse than criminal,” McCain said.

Related:

CIA Confirms Staff Inappropriately Accessed Senate Investigators’ Computers; Udall Calls for Brennan’s Resignation (Updated) (Video)

Reid: CIA Snooping on the Senate ‘Appalling’

  • Jack

    ‘What Did the Director of the CIA Know and When Did He Know It?’
    The real question is, “What did Arlen Spector, I mean Sen McCain know and when did he know it?”

  • the viceroy’s gin

    McCain and Graham love warrantless spying and data collection. Who are these 2 trying to kid?

  • erick

    When did the CIA director know that the CIA was doing drug experiments on unwitting American citizens? When did the CIA director know that the CIA was smuggling in illegal narcotics to be sold to your kids in school? When did the CIA director know that the CIA was spying on American citizens in the USA in violation of the CIA’s own charter?

  • Elle Tee

    While liberty is often confused with democratic processes, the right to vote does not imply that centralized control has been minimized or that those who are ineligible to vote are victims of coercion.

  • A Semper Fi Marine

    RINO McCain needs to GO! He’s all up in arms about THIS ISSUE – and doesn’t know where the faults should lie of not with Brennan – HELLO!!!!! WHO IS BRENNAN’S BOSS? Jack**s! There have been so many instances of corruption within this administration, but be damned if you raise He** about any except the one where YOU were possibly involved – piece of work – ALL of them.

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