Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 9, 2016

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

Feinstein and Chambliss lead the Intelligence panel. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Feinstein and Chambliss lead the Intelligence panel. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:18 p.m. | The inspector general at the CIA has determined agency personnel gained inappropriate access to computers used by Senate investigators probing torture during the George W. Bush administration.

McClatchy first reported on the results of the investigation Thursday morning, which will likely increase tensions between the intelligence community and overseers on Capitol Hill.

Dean Boyd, a CIA spokesperson, confirmed the news in a statement to CQ Roll Call.

“Director [John O.] Brennan was briefed on the CIA OIG’s findings, which include a judgment that some CIA employees acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding reached between SSCI and the CIA in 2009 regarding access to [a secure network],” Boyd said. “The Director subsequently informed the SSCI Chairman and Vice Chairman of the findings and apologized to them for such actions by CIA officers as described in the OIG report.”

“The Director is committed to correcting any shortcomings related to this matter and, to that end he is commissioning an Accountability Board at CIA, which will be chaired by former Senator and SSCI member Evan Bayh,” Boyd said. “This Board will review the OIG report, conduct interviews as needed, and provide the Director with recommendations that, depending on its findings, could include potential disciplinary measures and/or steps to address systemic issues.”

Bayh retired from Senate service at the conclusion of the 111th Congress.

The revelation validates a bombshell claim made back in March by Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., on the Senate floor. In a speech, Feinstein said the CIA had snooped on computers used at a secure facility by committee staff researching for a report on the use of torture. The report is at the White House undergoing declassification review.

Last week, Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden said he was discussing with his colleagues a seldom-used Senate Intelligence Committee process that could force release of the report.

“Without prior notification or approval, CIA personnel had conducted a search — that was John Brennan’s word — of the committee computers at the offsite facility,” Feinstein said in March. “This search was not only of documents provided by the committee by the CIA but also a search of the stand-alone and walled-off committee network drive containing the committee’s own internal work product and communications.”

McClatchy reported that Feinstein and Intelligence ranking member Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., were briefed on the matter Tuesday by Brennan.

The Senate Intelligence Committee was scheduled to address the matter at a meeting Thursday afternoon, panel member Angus King, I-Maine, told reporters.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., called for appointing independent counsel. Following a closed briefing on the report, Udall went further and called for Brennan’s resignation.

“After being briefed on the CIA Inspector General report today, I have no choice but to call for the resignation of CIA Director John Brennan. The CIA unconstitutionally spied on Congress by hacking into Senate Intelligence Committee computers,” Udall said in a statement. “This grave misconduct not only is illegal, but it violates the U.S. Constitution’s requirement of separation of powers. These offenses, along with other errors in judgment by some at the CIA, demonstrate a tremendous failure of leadership, and there must be consequences.”

Earlier, Wyden told reporters the revelation should speed disclosure of the torture report.

“What’s needed now is a public apology from Director Brennan to staff and the committee, a full accounting of how this occurred and a commitment there will be no further attempts to undermine Congressional oversight of CIA activities,” Wyden said.

Related:

Wyden Ponders Release of CIA Torture Report Without White House Consent

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

Intelligence Committee Votes to Declassify CIA Report

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

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