Democratic Sens. Mark Udall and Martin Heinrich both called for CIA Director John Brennan’s resignation late Thursday after the spy agency admitted it had improperly accessed Senate staffers’ computers used during a review of the agency’s Bush-era interrogation practices.
“After being briefed on the CIA inspector general report today, I have no choice but to call for the resignation of CIA Director John Brennan,” Udall said in a statement. “The CIA unconstitutionally spied on Congress by hacking into Senate Intelligence Committee computers.”
Additional reports claimed that Sen. Lindsey Graham was also asking Brennan to step down due to the controversy. An aide Thursday denied knowing of any call for resignation, though the South Carolina Republican said in March that “heads should roll, and people should go to jail” if the allegations of CIA hacking proved true.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stopped short of calling for Brennan’s head, but said the CIA’s admission was “appalling and deeply threatening to our system of checks and balances.”
“The CIA’s leadership must take action to address these misdeeds, restore its trust with Congress and ensure that this episode will never, ever be repeated,” Reid added.
Other senators, including Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, have refused comment on whether they believe Brennan should be removed from his post. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the Intelligence panel’s top Republican, said calls for a resignation were “premature.”
“There are still a lot of undisclosed facts out there,” Chambliss said.
Sen. Susan Collins said she had “been shown no evidence that [Brennan] directed, authorized, or approved of the intrusions themselves, which I consider to be a very serious infringement on Congressional oversight.”
Earlier Thursday, the CIA admitted that its employees had “acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding” agreed to between the agency and its Senate overseers, according to CIA spokesman Dean Boyd. The mea culpa marked a sharp reversal of previous denials by Brennan, who said allegations of hacking of Senate computers was “beyond the scope of reason.”
Feinstein earlier this year took to the Senate floor to deliver bombshell allegations that the CIA had secretly accessed her panel’s computers that were being used to review documents related to the government’s torture, detention, and rendition policies allowed during George W. Bush’s presidency. She accused the CIA of impeding her staffers’ investigation and charged the agency with possibly violating the Constitution.
Udall, who serves on the Intelligence panel, was the first senator to state publicly that Brennan should give up his position. The Colorado Democrat is facing reelection this year in a tight race that The Cook Political Report has deemed a Toss-Up.
On Friday, the New York Times editorial board said the CIA had breached the trust of not only Congress but the American public and called for personnel changes.
“One of those heads may need to be Mr. Brennan’s,” the board wrote. “If he knew about the break-in, then he blatantly lied. If he did not, then apparently he was unaware of the lawless culture that has festered within the C.I.A. since the moment it was encouraged by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to torture suspects and then lie about it.”
What We're Following See More »
Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."