Spying Squabble Spurs Approval of CIA’s New Top Lawyer

The vote comes amid growing tensions between the agency and the Senate over alleged hacking.

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 15: U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) (L) speaks with reporters after the tax compromise vote December 15, 2010 in Washington, DC.The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 81-19, moving the vote to the House of Representatives. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
National Journal
Jordain Carney
March 13, 2014, 1:32 p.m.

The CIA’s new top law­yer may have a spat between the in­tel­li­gence-gath­er­ing agency and a Sen­ate com­mit­tee to thank for her con­firm­a­tion.

Sen­at­ors voted 95-4 Thursday to con­firm Car­oline Krass’s nom­in­a­tion to be the next gen­er­al coun­sel, with Sen. Mark Ud­all, D-Colo., cit­ing an in­ter­rog­a­tion re­port at the cen­ter of the cur­rent feud as part of his reas­on for lift­ing his hold.

“We need to cor­rect the re­cord on the CIA’s co­er­cive de­ten­tion and in­ter­rog­a­tion pro­gram and de­clas­si­fy the Sen­ate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee’s ex­haust­ive study of it. I re­leased my hold on Car­oline Krass’s nom­in­a­tion today and voted for her to help change the dir­ec­tion of the agency,” Ud­all said.

In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee Chair­wo­man Di­anne Fein­stein, D-Cal­if., ac­cused the agency of pos­sibly vi­ol­at­ing the con­sti­tu­tion over al­leg­a­tions that it hacked com­puters used by com­mit­tee staffers as they worked on a long-an­ti­cip­ated re­port about the agency’s in­ter­rog­a­tion tac­tics. CIA Dir­ect­or John Bren­nan has denied those ac­cus­a­tions.

Fein­stein also called out Robert Eat­inger, the CIA’s act­ing gen­er­al coun­sel, from the Sen­ate floor Tues­day for send­ing a crim­in­al re­fer­ral to the Justice De­part­ment about al­leg­a­tions that com­mit­tee staffers may have vi­ol­ated the law by re­mov­ing clas­si­fied doc­u­ments from the CIA.

“I view the act­ing gen­er­al coun­sel’s re­fer­ral as a po­ten­tial ef­fort to in­tim­id­ate this staff — and I am not tak­ing it lightly,” Fein­stein said.

Krass told mem­bers of the Sen­ate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee last year dur­ing her con­firm­a­tion hear­ing that Con­gress shouldn’t be giv­en ac­cess to doc­u­ments that over­see CIA activ­it­ies, in­clud­ing its con­tro­ver­sial drone pro­gram.

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