DOJ won't probe CIA-Senate spy charges

The Department of Justice has decided not to pursue accusations that the CIA spied on the Senate Intelligence Committee, nor will it investigate charges that committee staffers took classified documents from a secure CIA facility.

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"The department carefully reviewed the matters referred to us and did not find sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal investigation," Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr confirmed to The Hill.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the Intelligence Committee’s chairwoman, took to the Senate floor in March and blasted the CIA, saying it had spied on her staffers conducting an investigation into the agency's rendition, detention and interrogation program during the Bush era.

The CIA, in turn, alleged that the staffers had taken unauthorized documents while conducting their investigation.

Both sides referred criminal charges against each other to the Justice Department.

Feinstein said she was "pleased" with the Justice Department's decision not to open an investigation into Intelligence Committee staff.

"I believe this is the right decision and will allow the committee to focus on the upcoming release of its report on the CIA detention and interrogation program,” she said in a statement to The Hill.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), the panel’s top Republican, said he assumed the department “did a very thorough investigation and made their decision.”

“I accept what they decided and we’ll look to see what the sergeant at arms says,” he added. The Senate sergeants at arms is conducting its own investigation into the case.

The accusations revolved around the Intelligence Committee's investigation into the "enhanced interrogation" techniques used during the George W. Bush administration.

The committee has produced a 6,600-page report on the program after clashing repeatedly with the CIA during the process. Feinstein alleged the CIA had snooped on the committee's activities at a secure facility where staffers were allowed to review highly classified cables and other documents.

The CIA countered that staffers took documents from the site that they were not supposed to have. Those documents allegedly included an internal review, conducted by former CIA Director Leon Panetta, that found the "enhanced interrogation" methods did not produce useful intelligence.

The executive summary of the report is is due to be released this year. Nearly 500 pages of executive summary is being reviewed by the CIA and the White House for redactions.

Security concerns are complicating the release of the report, however, with officials fearing the document could inflame the Arab street and put Americans in danger.

While an August release seems unlikely, putting the report out in early September might not be an option, as it would fall near the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks — a day when terrorist groups typically attempt to strike, as they did two years ago in Benghazi, Libya.

Officials have made clear the release date is a sensitive matter, as Democrats claim the report documents "shocking" brutality, including techniques that critics have labeled "torture" such as waterboarding.

Democrats on the Intelligence panel conducted the investigation, which was boycotted by Republicans, who dispute its findings. 

— This story was updated at 2:58 p.m.