CIA Faces Probe Over Spying on Senate Aides

Wednesday, 05 Mar 2014 10:53 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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The CIA has become embroiled in a spying scandal that involves the secret monitoring of computers used by Senate Intelligence Committee staffers.

The CIA's Inspector General's Office has asked the Justice Department to investigate claims by members of Congress that agency employees monitored committee aides who were drawing up a report on the detention and interrogation of terror suspects, according to The New York Times.

The 6,300-page report, which has not been released and may remain classified, focuses on the agency's now-defunct program of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques on terror suspects in secret overseas prisons.

McClatchy newspapers reported that CIA Inspector General David Buckley's appeal to the Justice Department was a "criminal referral" and noted that the monitoring may have violated an agreement between the Senate committee and the agency.

Earlier this year, the committee discovered the CIA was improperly monitoring the computers that the agency had given to committee staff in a supposedly secure room at the CIA's headquarters that the CIA had insisted they use to review millions of pages of top secret documents, according to McClatchy sources.

Democratic Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, a member of the intelligence committee, seemed to be referring to the monitoring when he asked CIA Director John Brennan at a hearing in January if provisions of the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act "apply to the CIA."

Brennan replied that he'd have to get back to the senator after he'd researched "what the act actually calls for and its applicability to CIA's authorities."

The law makes it a criminal act for anyone to access a computer without authorization or to go beyond what they're allowed to access, McClatchy reported.

Sen. Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat, has even written to President Barack Obama complaining about the CIA's actions, the Times reported.

"As you are aware, the CIA has recently taken unprecedented action against the committee in relation to the internal CIA review, and I find these actions to be incredibly troubling for the committee's oversight responsibilities and for our democracy," he wrote.

The committee's voluminous report, which took four years and $40 million to create, is said to be highly critical of the CIA's detention and interrogation program, while the agency is disputing some of the findings, according to McClatchy.

Obama pulled the plug on the program shortly after he was elected in 2008 while condemning the interrogation methods as illegal torture.

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