CIA Admits Fault for Snooping on Senate Computers (Updated)


Whoops! Our bad!

Oh, hey, the CIA is willing to admit that it did something wrong—at least when it does something wrong to senators and their staff. A fight had brewed between the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee, with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) as the voice for her side, over allegations that the CIA had snooped on computers used by Senate aides to access classified information to prepare that torture report I blogged about just a little while ago.

There was never a question as to whether the CIA had accessed the computers. They said they had and argued it was justified because they believed Senate aides were somehow hacking into or accessing documents they weren't supposed to have access to. The Department of Justice previously declined to get involved as each side accused the other of illegal behavior.

Today McClatchy DC reports that an internal investigation puts the fault on the CIA, that employees acted in violation with an agreement with the Senate, and that Feinstein's rant about it was in the right:

CIA Director John Brennan briefed Feinstein and the committee's vice chairman, Saxby Chambliss, R-GA, on the CIA inspector general's findings and apologized to them during a meeting on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Boyd said.

"The director . . . apologized to them for such actions by CIA officers as described in the OIG (Office of Inspector General Report)," he said.

Brennan has decided to submit the findings for review by an accountability board chaired by retired Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, who served on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Boyd.

"This board will review the OIG report, conduct interviews as needed, and provide the director with recommendations that, depending on its findings, could include potential disciplinary measures and/or steps to address systemic issues," said Boyd.

Potential discipline! Of course, since the whole thing is over now anyway, we probably shouldn't expect too much. Somebody may retire a few years earlier than expected for a six-figure consulting job in the private sector!

Update: Here's an unclassified summary of what the internal investigation found. It states that the CIA actually had no foundation to accuse the Senate staff of improperly accessing information, the justification the CIA used to snoop on them and to file a complaint with the Department of Justice.