Dems: CIA chief must apologize for Senate spying

Dems: CIA chief must apologize for Senate spying
© Getty Images

A group of Senate Democrats wants President Obama to require CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanOvernight Defense: Capitol Police may ask National Guard to stay | Biden's Pentagon policy nominee faces criticism | Naval Academy midshipmen moved to hotels Republicans blast Pentagon policy nominee over tweets, Iran nuclear deal Online and frighteningly real: 'A Taste of Armageddon' MORE to apologize for his agency's spying on Senate staffers and ensure that it won't happen again. 

“We believe that it is necessary for you to address this matter directly," Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) wrote in a letter to Obama on Thursday.
"We ask that you instruct Director Brennan to acknowledge that the CIA’s unauthorized search of Senate files was improper and will not be repeated.”

The senators added that it is "wholly unacceptable" that Brennan has never said publicly "that this search was improper" or that the CIA wouldn't conduct a similar search in the future.

The letter is the latest move in a long-running battle between lawmakers and the agency after Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) revealed in March 2014 that CIA staff had broken into and searched Senate files in a walled-off computer that the agency and the Intelligence Committee were using to share documents as part of the committee’s research for its report on the CIA's former torture techniques. 

The revelation sparked a months-long rhetorical fight between lawmakers and Brennan, who initially said allegations that the CIA would spy on Congress went "beyond the scope of reason." 

While the agency's inspector general (IG) found in mid-2014 that five agency employees had "improperly accessed" the Senate network, a CIA accountability board determined in Jan. 2015 that the staffers acted within their rights when they searched the Senate network. 

Brennan apologized privately to Feinstein and then-Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), who was the committee's ranking member, in the wake of the CIA's IG report. 

The three Democratic senators also sent a letter to Brennan last year asking that he publicly apologize but suggested on Thursday that their request had been ignored.