Feinstein slams report clearing CIA of spying on Senate

A report clearing the CIA of wrongly breaking into computers operated by Senate staffers is incomplete and inaccurate, Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinThe Hill's Morning Report — Shutdown fallout — economic distress Feinstein grappling with vote on AG nominee Barr 5 takeaways from Barr’s testimony MORE (D-Calif.) said Tuesday.

The ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee again expressed disappointment that no official has been held accountable for breaking into Senate-operated computers, during a time when the committee was compiling a report on the CIA’s now-defunct enhanced interrogation program.

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“The report released by the CIA Accountability Board, which recommended no accountability for wrongdoing by CIA personnel, contains many mistakes and omissions,” Feinstein said in a statement that listed 15 specific inaccuracies.

In January 2014, Feinstein gave a long speech on the Senate floor, accusing the agency of illegally accessing computers used by her committee at a CIA site set up for staffers to cull through documents associated with the Bush-era interrogation program.

CIA officials improperly access the computers to search for an internal document dubbed the “Panetta review,” which the agency did not intend to provide to the committee.

In July, the CIA’s inspector general determined the agency improperly accessed the shared drives of the computers. The separate accountability review released earlier this month found the agency did not wrongly spy on the Senate, calling it a mistake that did not reflect bad faith.

The review board found no discipline was necessary because the CIA acted reasonably by investigating a “potential security breach" when looking for the document.

On Tuesday, Feinstein said the CIA knew the “Panetta review” likely got into the hands of Senate staffers using a search tool the CIA provided but “misconfigured” — not by a security breach.

Feinstein particularly took issue with the board’s finding that there was not a common understanding about what level of access the CIA had to the computers.

Letters exchanged back in 2009 were meant to “clearly limit CIA access,” she said. She also said it was absurd to conclude that, because the CIA had violated the agreement once before in 2010, it was permitted.

The review panel’s investigation was also too limited, Feinstein asserted. The review cleared five individuals of allegedly ordering the Senate computer search, but did not determine who ordered the search.

“Keeping the scope of the Accountability Board so narrow is unacceptable,” according to Feinstein’s office.

Feinstein pointed out a number of other inaccuracies in the report —including the “false” accusation that a Senate staffer took a camera into the secure facility — in the hope that “errors in the report and the public record can be corrected.”

CIA spokesman Dean Boyd released a statement from the agency saying the board’s review was comprehensive and adopted unanimously. 

“The Board’s report stands on its merits and its recommendations have been accepted by CIA,” according to the statement.

— Updated with a statement from the CIA at 3:50 p.m.