Tag Archives: intelligence committee

CIA Admits Spying on Senate

So much for Separation of Powers. After the revelations of Ed Snowden, Sharyl Atkisson and more, can anyone seriously believe that Members of Congress and their staff are not under electronic surveillance by the executive? Remember when Democrats were caught with tapes of Newt Gingrich’s phone calls?

With the little that we have learned, what we don’t know is likely stunning.

The Hill:

CIA officials improperly hacked the Senate Intelligence Committee’s computers as staffers compiled a report on “enhanced interrogation” techniques, the spy agency’s inspector general has concluded.

In a statement shared with The Hill, CIA spokesman Dean Boyd said the internal watchdog determined “that some CIA employees acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding” between the agency and the committee about access to the network they used to share documents.

CIA chief John Brennan told Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) about the findings “and apologized to them for such actions by CIA officers,” Boyd added.

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), a member of the committee, quickly retorted on Twitter that the watchdog’s report “shows John Brennan misled [the] public, whose interests I have championed.”

“I will fight for change at the CIA,” he added.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), another member of the panel, called for Brennan to publicly apologize and give “a full accounting of how this occurred and a commitment there will be no further attempts to undermine congressional oversight of CIA activities,” he said in a statement.

The admission is a stunning turn of events in the standoff between the two bodies and directly contradicts Brennan’s earlier claims that the agency would never snoop on the committee’s computers.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Brennan said in March, soon after Feinstein raised allegations that CIA operatives had been unconstitutionally prying on her panel’s work. “We wouldn’t do that. That’s just beyond the scope of reason in terms of what we’d do.”

Feinstein claimed at the time that operatives had accessed a computer network established in 2009 for committee staff to review classified CIA materials related to the agency’s “enhanced interrogation” techniques, such as waterboarding. Those interrogation methods were authorized during the Bush administration but have since been prohibited.

The documents were used to produce a classified 6,300-page study that reportedly shows the techniques were conducted more harshly and more commonly than was previously understood. The executive summary of the report is now being redacted for release to the public, possibly as soon as next month.

Feinstein on Thursday said that the search of her staff’s computers was “in violation of the constitutional separation of powers,” though she declined to pin the blame on Brennan.

“Director Brennan apologized for these actions and submitted the IG [inspector general’s] report to an accountability board,” she said in a brief statement. “These are positive first steps. This IG report corrects the record and it is my understanding that a declassified report will be made available to the public shortly.”

An unclassified summary of the inspector general’s report released on Thursday claimed that the five CIA employees – two lawyers and three information technology staffers – “improperly accesses or caused access” to the shared network.

It also alleged that the three IT staffers “demonstrated a lack of candor about their activities” in interviews with the agency watchdog.

Tensions over the interrogations report have strained relations between the Senate panel and the CIA. Earlier this month, the Justice Department declined to take up criminal charges on either Feinstein’s charges or a rebuttal from the CIA that Senate staffers had improperly taken classified documents from a secure Virginia facility.

To clear up the mistrust, Brennan has passed along the findings of the IG report to an accountability board chaired by former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), who used to be a member of the Intelligence Committee.

“This board will review the [Office of the Inspector General’s] report, conduct interviews as needed, and provide the director with recommendations that, depending on its findings, could include potential disciplinary measures and/or steps to address systemic issues,” Boyd said.

At the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest gave a robust defense of Brennan. Asked if the hacking incident had hurt Brennan’s standing as CIA director, Earnest responded: “Absolutely not.”

“He has been candid about the inconsistencies that the IG found,” Earnest said.

Earnest said Brennan appointed an accountability board to look into the matter further and has “taken all the responsible steps to address this situation. That’s the kind of proactive leadership the president would expect.”

Some members of the president’s party, however, said it’s time for new leadership at the CIA.

Udall said that blame for the incident lay with Brennan and his “apparent inability to find any flaws in the agency he leads.”

“From the unprecedented hacking of congressional staff computers and continued leaks undermining the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program to his abject failure to acknowledge any wrongdoing by the agency, I have lost confidence in John Brennan,” Udall added.

State Department told Congress they witnessed the attack in real time (video) – UPDATED

Representative Jason Chaffetz also tells of his meeting with General Ham who said that no orders came to help those in Banghazi.

Democrat Senator Udal, who sits on the Intelligence Committee, confirmed that drones were overhead during the attack so all could see what was happening in real time:

UPDATE – Fox News Catherine Herridge:

Published October 29, 2012 | FoxNews.com

Two days after the Libya terror attack, representatives of the FBI and National Counterterrorism Center gave Capitol Hill briefings in which they said the evidence supported an Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda-affiliated attack, Fox News has learned.

The description of the attack by those in the Sept. 13 briefings stands in stark contrast to the now controversial briefing on Capitol Hill by CIA Director David Petraeus the following day — and raises even more questions about why Petraeus described the attack as tied to a demonstration.

The Sept. 13 assessment was based on intercepts that included individuals, believed to have participated in the attack, who were celebratory — as well as a claim of responsibility.
FBI and NCTC also briefed that there were a series of Al Qaeda training camps just outside of Benghazi, where the attack occurred and resulted in the deaths of four Americans. The area was described as a hotbed for the militant Ansar al-Sharia as well as Al Qaeda in North Africa.

Fox News is told there was no mention of a demonstration or any significant emphasis on the anti-Islam video that for days was cited by administration officials as a motivating factor.

The FBI and NCTC did not immediately respond to a request from Fox News for comment.

Fox News is told that the Petraeus briefing on Sept. 14 conflicted with that of the FBI and NCTC.

On Capitol Hill, Petraeus characterized the attack as more consistent with a flash mob, where the militants showed up spontaneously with RPG’s. Petraeus downplayed to lawmakers the skill needed to fire mortars, which were also used in the attack and to some were seen as evidence of significant pre-planning. As Fox News previously reported, four mortars were fired — two missed the annex, but the mortar team re-calibrated and the next two mortars were direct hits.

Fox News is told that Petraeus seemed wedded to the narrative that the attack was linked to a demonstration and was spontaneous as opposed to pre-meditated.

Editor’s Note – one of my closest sources told me that CIA Director Petraeus was trying to carry the water for the administration about “blaming it on the video” when he full well knew better. I am glad that he came clean.