Will the Senate Push John Brennan to Resign From the CIA?

Calls for Brennan’s head began Thursday evening after the spy agency admitted it had hacked into Senate computers.

National Journal
Clara Ritger and Dustin Volz
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Clara Ritger Dustin Volz
July 31, 2014, 1:28 p.m.

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 »
BOON TO PROSECUTORS
SCOTUS Rules that Insider Trading Can’t Be “Gifted”
10 hours ago
THE DETAILS

In a unanimous decision, "the Supreme Court on Tuesday said it violates insider-trading laws for a corporate officer to make a “gift” of insider information to a relative, a decision that makes it easier for those who police Wall Street to bring prosecutions."

Source:
EFFORT LIKELY TO DIE IN COMMITTEE
Jordan Can’t Force a Floor Vote on Impeaching Koskinen
11 hours ago
THE LATEST
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan attempted to force a floor vote on impeaching IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, but "the House voted overwhelmingly to refer it to the Judiciary Committee. ... The committee will not be required to take up the resolution." Earlier, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi "made a motion to table the resolution, which the House voted against by a 180-235 margin, mostly along party lines."
Source:
AFTER THE VOTE FOR SPEAKER
Ryan: No Committee Assignments Until New Year
16 hours ago
THE DETAILS

House Speaker Paul Ryan has decreed that House members "won’t receive their committee assignments until January — after they cast a public vote on the House floor for speaker. "The move has sparked behind-the-scenes grumbling from a handful of Ryan critics, who say the delay allows him and the Speaker-aligned Steering Committee to dole out committee assignments based on political loyalty rather than merit or expertise." The roll call to elect the speaker is set for Jan. 3, the first vote of the new Congress.

Source:
EXPECTED TO FUND THE GOVERNMENT THROUGH SPRING
Funding Bill To Be Released Tuesday
1 days ago
THE LATEST

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Monday that the government funding bill will be released on Tuesday. The bill is the last piece of legislation Congress needs to pass before leaving for the year and is expected to fund the government through the spring. The exact time date the bill would fund the government through is unclear, though it is expected to be in April or May.

Source:
IT’S OFFICIAL
Trump to Nominate Carson to Lead HUD
1 days ago
THE LATEST

As has been rumored for a week, Donald Trump will nominate Ben Carson, his former rival, to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In a statement, Trump said, "We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities. Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a Presidency representing all Americans. He is a tough competitor and never gives up."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login