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

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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