Dem senator calls for criminal probe, reforms after CIA spying

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Friday pressed the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into the CIA and called for “broad and systemic” changes at the agency after a report confirming officials spied on Senate computers.

“This damning report on CIA misconduct renews the need for the Department of Justice to consider a criminal investigation and provides compelling evidence that Congress must impose greater accountability on the intelligence community,” Blumenthal said in a statement Friday.

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He urged his fellow lawmakers to enact “legal reforms to make our intelligence system more accountable and transparent.”

“It should now be clear beyond question that Congress must be vigilant to ensure that the intelligence community stays within the boundaries set by the law and the Constitution,” he said.

Blumenthal’s statement adds to the growing concern over a report released this week claiming that the CIA improperly gained access to computers being used by Senate Intelligence Committee staff to write a report about Bush-era “enhanced interrogation” techniques.

When claims about the CIA spying first surfaced earlier this year, CIA Director John Brennan flatly denied them, saying hacking into Senate computers would be “beyond the scope of reason.”

Blumenthal pointed to Brennan’s denials.

“We have been told again and again that the intelligence community can wield tremendous power and do so in secret because it can be trusted to respect the law and because any abuses will be corrected through Congressional oversight,” he said.

“When an intelligence agency not only turns its surveillance capacity on its own overseer but lies repeatedly to cover it up and to suppress a Senate investigation into torture allegations, we have to question whether our trust in the system is misplaced.”

Blumenthal is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and has been a vocal critic of U.S. government surveillance.

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