CIA Director: We Are Not Spying on Congress

John Brennan denies his agency was monitoring computers used by Senate staffers who were investigating its past interrogation practices.

National Journal
Dustin Volz
March 11, 2014, 7:33 a.m.

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CIA Dir­ect­or John Bren­nan on Tues­day denied charges by Sen. Di­anne Fein­stein that his agency has broken in­to com­puters used by Sen­ate staffers to in­vest­ig­ate its Bush-era in­ter­rog­a­tion prac­tices.

“We are not in any way try­ing to thwart the [Sen­ate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee] re­port’s pro­gress [or] re­lease,” Bren­nan told NBC’s An­drea Mitchell at a Coun­cil on For­eign Re­la­tions event. “As far as the al­leg­a­tions of the CIA hack­ing in­to com­puters, noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth.”

“That’s bey­ond the scope of reas­on,” he ad­ded.

Bren­nan also said the CIA has “tried to work as col­lab­or­at­ively as pos­sible with the com­mit­tee on its re­port, and we will con­tin­ue to do so.”

Earli­er Tues­day, Fein­stein, the In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee’s chair­wo­man, ac­cused the CIA of cov­ertly re­mov­ing key doc­u­ments from com­puters used by her pan­el’s staff to in­vest­ig­ate the agency’s past in­ter­rog­a­tion prac­tices.

In a scath­ing 40-minute speech on the Sen­ate floor, the Cali­for­nia Demo­crat said the in­tel­li­gence agency pos­sibly vi­ol­ated the Con­sti­tu­tion in Janu­ary by ac­cess­ing the com­puter files used by com­mit­tee staffers to in­vest­ig­ate the CIA’s now-de­funct in­ter­rog­a­tion pro­grams.

Former Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency con­tract­or Ed­ward Snowden also spoke out on the CIA spy­ing al­leg­a­tions, telling NBC News on Tues­day, “It’s clear the CIA was try­ing to play ‘keep away’ with doc­u­ments rel­ev­ant to an in­vest­ig­a­tion by their over­seers in Con­gress, and that’s a ser­i­ous con­sti­tu­tion­al con­cern.”

But Snowden also ac­cused Fein­stein, tra­di­tion­ally one of the in­tel­li­gence com­munity’s staunchest de­fend­ers in Con­gress, of hy­po­crisy for be­ing in­censed by the no­tion of CIA spy­ing on Con­gress while “not caring” about the NSA’s sur­veil­lance of oth­er Amer­ic­ans.

In a state­ment last week, Bren­nan said he was “dis­mayed” at “spuri­ous al­leg­a­tions about CIA ac­tions that are wholly un­sup­por­ted by facts.”

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