CIA Director John Brennan apologized to Senate Intelligence Committee leaders on Thursday after an internal agency inquiry determined that its employees conducted unauthorized searches of Senate computers.
The Washington Post reported
that CIA spokesman Dean Boyd issued the agency's apology. His statement said that some employees had "acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding reached" between the agency and the Senate committee regarding its inquiry into the detention and interrogation techniques used by the CIA on al Qaeda suspects following the 9/11 terror attacks.
"The director is committed to correcting any shortcomings related to this matter,'' Boyd said. He added that former senator Evan Bayh, D-Indiana, will oversee the creation of a an internal personnel board to review employee conduct and determine "potential disciplinary measures."
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He also reminded all involved that it was Brennan who ordered the investigation of his own agency by the Inspector General after learning that Senate staffers may have improperly accessed CIA documents.
The Senate panel's over 6,000-page investigation report on the CIA is forthcoming. A White House memo about the document leaked this week revealed that the report accuses the agency of misleading and exaggerating the importance of information gleaned from its interrogations, but stops short of accusing the agency of criminal wrongdoing.
USA Today reported
that the CIA has also commissioned the Senate's sergeant-at-arms to review Senate staffer's conduct. That review is ongoing.
Despite the apology, Senate committee members Mark Udall, D-Colorado, and Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, suggested Brennan should step down. However, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that President Obama thinks otherwise.
"[Brennan] currently is operating in a very difficult environment to ensure the safety of the American public. He is somebody who has a very difficult job, who does that job extraordinarily well," said Earnest.
The ACLU's senior legislative counsel Christopher Anders said the CIA's conduct is very concerning.
"It is hard to imagine a greater threat to the Constitution's system of checks and balances than have the CIA spy on the computers used by the very Senate staff carrying out the Senate's constitutional duty of oversight over the executive branch," he said.
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