CIA Director John Brennan has long contested claims made as recently as a month ago by Dianne Feinstein that the CIA had hacked into Senate computers and were illegally spying/snooping. They were even calling for his resignation. Well, after calling for an investigation, the result is….Exoneration, via Lawfare Blog:
That’s the gist of Jason Leopold’s extraordinary article this afternoon for Vice, which in turn cites this report by a CIA Accountability Review Board. (The latter document, as I can now see thumbing through it, says the Board was “directed to limit its investigation only to the conduct of Agency officers, [sic] not to investigate the conduct of SSCI staff members.”)
From Leopold’s piece:
There is a new twist in the long-running soap opera — and potential constitutional crisis — between the CIA and Senate. Contrary to accusations leveled by the Senate, a 38-page report has found that the CIA did not breach the computers of Senate Intelligence Committee staffers and spy on them while they were investigating the CIA’s torture program.
The report was released today by the CIA. And is based on a review conducted by a CIA accountability board.
More coverage from the Washington Post can be found here:
An internal CIA review concluded that agency employees committed no wrongdoing when they surreptitiously searched a computer system used by Senate investigators in a multiyear probe of the agency’s brutal interrogations of terrorism suspects.
The CIA panel found that “no disciplinary actions are warranted” for agency lawyers and computer experts who were involved in the incident, which led to an extraordinary public rupture between the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee last year.
The search of the Senate computers by CIA employees was “reasonable in light of their responsibilities to manage an unprecedented computer system” the agency had set up at a secret facility in northern Virginia exclusively for the Senate probe.
Check out Jason Leopold’s piece, which mentions:
What the accountability board’s review did find, however, is that Senate Intelligence Committee staffers stole documents from the CIA and violated an agreement it entered into with the agency over the use of a classified computer network. On several occasions between 2009 and 2013, while the committee was writing its report, committee staffers allegedly gained access to CIA documents they were not authorized to see — such as a spreadsheet that contained a list of videos apparently related to the torture program — and admitted as much when confronted by agency officials.
Further undermining claims that the CIA spied on the Senate, the accountability report says, is the fact that each time Senate staffers logged onto a classified computer system called RDINet (“Rendition, Detention, Interrogation”) set up by the CIA at a secure facility in Northern Virginia — there, millions of pages of torture program documents were reviewed by the staffers — they were greeted with the following message: “Your use of this system may be monitored and you have no expectation of privacy.”