Sen. Ron Wyden is furious at CIA Director John Brennan for finally admitting to wide-scale spying on Senate computers, calling it “an unconstitutional act” and speculating that Brennan “deliberately lied to the American people.”
The Oregon Democratic senator is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which worked for years on a report regarding the CIA’s imprisonment and “enhanced interrogation techniques” after the 9/11 attacks. Reports from earlier this year indicated that the CIA began spying on the committee’s work in December 2013 — a charge Brennan vehemently denied at the time.
But on Thursday, the CIA director was forced to admit that his agency had spied on the Senate — sending lawmakers like Wyden into a frenzy (RELATED: CIA Admits To Infiltrating Senate Computers, Apologizes).
“Right now the public deserves to know who is responsible for ordering and carrying out this unconstitutional act,” Wyden declared. “And right now I want to know whether Director Brennan deliberately lied to the American people.”
“As you know, he told your network and others the search is the furthest thing from what he would be interested in,” the senator continued. “I’ve long felt that with the intelligence leadership there is a culture of misinformation. This may be another example.”
“Let me tell you what I know at this point,” he said. “If a 19-year-old hacker had searched Senate files this way, that hacker would be sitting in jail right now. Back in January I asked if the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act applies to the CIA. That act has criminal penalties, and I think the director owes the American people a public explanation.”
Wyden called for an independent counsel to wring the truth out of the intelligence agency, a nod to the fact that the CIA isn’t always the easiest body to investigate.
“You’ve got to have the ability on our committee to get straight answers!” Wyden said. “And again and again — as you know, I asked [DNI] Director Clapper, at one point, whether the government collected any type of information at all on Americans. They said no.”
“My sense, from the very beginning, is the agency wanted to do everything they could to play stall-ball here,” he explained. “They don’t believe that where the committee, in my view, is going to end up — with profoundly shocking and disturbing information that is going to be made public — they don’t want that released!”
“And so again and again, they have thrown up one hurdle after another,” Wyden accused, claiming Brennan has some “heavy lifting” to do in order to rehabilitate his image — and keep his job.
“As far as I’m concerned, this inquiry is going to have to run right to the top,” the senator concluded.