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.

What We're Following See More »
GOP Budget Chiefs Won’t Invite Administration to Testify
1 days ago

The administration will release its 2017 budget blueprint tomorrow, but the House and Senate budget committees won’t be inviting anyone from the White House to come talk about it. “The chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees released a joint statement saying it simply wasn’t worth their time” to hear from OMB Director Shaun Donovan. Accusing the members of pulling a “Donald Trump,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the move “raises some questions about how confident they are about the kinds of arguments that they could make.”

Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
1 days ago

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”

A Shake-Up in the Offing in the Clinton Camp?
1 days ago

Anticipating a primary loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Hillary and Bill Clinton “are considering staffing and strategy changes” to their campaign. Sources tell Politico that the Clintons are likely to layer over top officials with experienced talent, rather than fire their staff en masse.

Trump Is Still Ahead, but Who’s in Second?
14 hours ago

We may not be talking about New Hampshire primary polls for another three-and-a-half years, so here goes:

  • American Research Group’s tracking poll has Donald Trump in the lead with 30% support, followed by Marco Rubio and John Kasich tying for second place at 16%. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton 53%-41%.
  • The 7 News/UMass Lowell tracking poll has Trump way out front with 34%, followed by Rubio and Ted Cruz with 13% apiece. Among the Democrats, Sanders is in front 56%-40%.
  • A Gravis poll puts Trump ahead with 28%, followed by Kasich with 17% and Rubio with 15%.
CNN Calls the Primary for Sanders and Trump
1 hours ago

Well that didn’t take long. CNN has already declared Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump the winners of the New Hampshire primary, leaving the rest of the candidates to fight for the scraps. Five minutes later, the Associated Press echoed CNN’s call.