WASHINGTON — An internal investigation by the C.I.A. has found that its officers penetrated a computer network used by the Senate Intelligence Committee in preparing its damning report on the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation program.
The report by the agency’s inspector general also found that C.I.A. officers read the emails of the Senate investigators and sent a criminal referral to the Justice Department based on false information, according to a summary of findings made public on Thursday. One official with knowledge of the report’s conclusions said the investigation also discovered that the officers created a false online identity to gain access on more than one occasion to computers used by the committee staff.
I’m a little late to this story, filed by Mazzetti and Hulse for the NYT July 31, but I wanted to offer a few comments on this deeply disturbing turn of events. It turns out the CIA did in fact spy on the Senate Intelligence Committee, just like Senator Feinstein said they did. Of course it also turns out that the CIA, including John Brennan, completely lied about all of this. Not particularly shocking, given their entire enterprise is about to be exposed to the world as a war-crimes factory during the Bush years. But you know you’ve lost the PR battle when even Saxby won’t support you:
“This is a serious situation and there are serious violations,” said Mr. Chambliss, generally a staunch ally of the intelligence community. He called for the C.I.A. employees to be “dealt with very harshly.”
So basically what happened is that a few “rogue” members of the CIA improperly gained access to the computer network the committee’s staff was using to research the torture projects the Agency carried out during the illustrious “War on Terror:”
According to David B. Buckley, the C.I.A. inspector general, three of the agency’s information technology officers and two of its lawyers “improperly accessed or caused access” to a computer network designated for members of the committee’s staff working on the report to sift through millions of documents at a C.I.A. site in Northern Virginia. The names of those involved are unavailable because the full report has not yet been made public.
The C.I.A. officials penetrated the computer network when they came to suspect that the committee’s staff had gained unauthorized access to an internal C.I.A. review of the detention program that the spy agency never intended to give to Congress. A C.I.A. lawyer then referred the agency’s suspicions to the Justice Department to determine whether the committee staff broke the law when it obtained that document. The inspector general report said that there was no “factual basis” for this referral, which the Justice Department has declined to investigate, because the lawyer had been provided inaccurate information. The report said that the three information technology officers “demonstrated a lack of candor about their activities” during interviews with the inspector general.
When they saw the committee staff had accessed the “Panetta review” (look into this if you aren’t familiar - I don’t have time to delve into the entire situation), they immediately tried running to the Justice Department to get them in legal hot water, despite the fact that the only reason they knew was because they spied. I guess circular logic pays off in the nether-realms of the CIA. And who really looks like an asshole in all of this? John Brennan, the torture-enabler Obama was able to muscle through to lead the CIA last year. Of course the White House still has full confidence:
The White House publicly defended Mr. Brennan on Thursday, saying he had taken “responsible steps” to address the behavior of C.I.A. employees, which he said included suggesting an investigation, accepting its results and appointing an accountability board.
Funny how easily the national security state still protects its own, thirteen years after the 9/11 attacks. This thing is going to go on forever until the report is publicly released.