Justice Department asked to investigate alleged CIA spying on senators

The CIA inspector general has requested that the Justice Department investigate accusations that CIA officials were monitoring the computers of the Senate Intelligence Committee, McClatchy reports.

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Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) confirmed to reporters Wednesday that the CIA inspector general was investigating the alleged intrusions, but declined to comment further.

The allegations are part of a larger fight between the CIA and the Senate Intelligence panel over the committee’s report on the controversial interrogation techniques used by the CIA during the George W. Bush administration.

The Senate’s “torture” report, which remains classified, is critical of the harsh interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, and concludes that they were mostly ineffective and did not help track down Osama bin Laden.

The Senate committee’s 6,300-page report was completed in December 2012. Democrats on the panel backed the findings, but most Republicans on the panel did not support it.

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and several other Democratic senators on the committee have pressed for the release of the report, which the CIA has resisted. Udall and other Democrats say the release is needed because it will "set the record straight."

The CIA has objected to some of the report’s conclusions, but Udall says a CIA internal review contradicts the agency’s public statements.

McClatchy reported the Intelligence Committee determined earlier this year that the CIA had monitored computers it provided to the panel to review top-secret reports, cables and other documents.

It’s unclear whether the CIA’s actions violated the law.

When CIA Director John Brennan testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee last month, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked Brennan whether the CIA was subject to the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, an apparent reference to the alleged intrusions.

Udall sent a letter to President Obama Tuesday on the de-classification of the committee’s report and alleged that the CIA’s “unprecedented action against the committee” was tied to the CIA’s internal review of the interrogation policies.

“It is essential that the Committee be able to do its oversight work — consistent with our constitutional principles of separation of powers — without the CIA posing impediments or obstacles as it is today,” Udall wrote.

White House press secretary Jay Carney declined to comment on the allegations, referring questions to the CIA and Department of Justice. But Carney said that "as a general matter," the White House was in touch with the Intelligence Committee.

"For some time, the White House has made clear to the chairmen of the Senate Select committee on intelligence that the summary and conclusions of the final RDI report should be declassified with any redactions necessary to protect national security," he said.

Udall first raised issues with the CIA’s internal review of the interrogation techniques at the confirmation hearing of Caroline Krass for CIA general counsel.

He said that the internal review conducted under former CIA director Leon Panetta corroborated the findings of the Senate Intelligence report and contradicted the public statements from the CIA that criticized the committee’s findings.

Udall has said he would block Krass’s nomination and, in his letter to Obama, said he would continue to do so until his requests for more information about the internal review were met by the committee.

“I believe it is vital that we understand how and why the content of the CIA’s internal review contradicts the CIA’s official June 27, 2013, response to the committee,” Udall wrote.

— This story was updated at 1:29 p.m.