Sen. Feinstein accuses CIA of spying on Senate computers, McCain considers probe
By End the Lie
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the head of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, accused the CIA of spying on Senate computers, violating both the Constitution and anti-hacking laws.
Feinstein made the accusations on the Senate floor Tuesday morning, where she said the CIA might be guilty of committing a crime.
She accused the CIA of improperly searching a Congressional computer network used to investigate alleged CIA abuse in a Bush-era program.
Feinstein confirmed that the CIA inspector general referred the matter to the Justice Department, according to Fox News.
“Based on what Director [John] Brennan has informed us, I have grave concerns that the CIA search may well have violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution including the Speech and Debate clause,” Feinstein said. “It may have undermined the constitutional framework essential to effective congressional oversight of intelligence activities or any other government function.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said an independent investigation into the allegations made Tuesday might be necessary to uncover if the CIA did, in fact, improperly access Senate computers, NBC reports.
Intelligence officials have denied Feinstein’s allegations.
“Nothing can be further from the truth, we wouldn’t do that,” Brennan said.
He added that the appropriate authorities would be investigating the matter and that he defers “to them to determine whether or not there was any violation of law or principle.”
Brennan said the CIA is committed to working with Congress and appreciates their oversight.
“My CIA colleagues and I believe strongly in congressional oversight,” he said, according to Reuters. “We are a far better organization because of congressional oversight.”
Other senators expressed outrage at the accusations after Feinstein spoke on the floor.
“Heads should roll, people should go to jail if it’s true,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “If it is, the legislative branch should declare war on the CIA.”
McCain also criticized CIA practices in general, telling reporters that he battled them for years over “enhanced interrogation” methods.
“I know that they concealed information concerning waterboarding – I know that for sure, because I fought with them for several years in my opposition of waterboarding,” McCain said. “We had to pass a law to prohibit it before it would stop.”
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) called for Feinstein’s allegations to be investigation.
“It’s a serious allegation, I think, and Senator Feinstein is a serious legislator, so I don’t think she made it lightly,” he said.
So far, the White House has remained relatively tight-lipped on the charges.
White House spokesman Jay Carney would not discuss the accuracy of the allegations during his press conference Tuesday, but did say that Obama has “great confidence” in Brennan, according to NBC News.
“You saw the CIA director say today that if there was any inappropriate activity by CIA or by [Senate Intelligence Committee] staff, he would of course want to get to the bottom of it and certainly the president would agree with that,” Carney said.
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