Politics

Key Senator: CIA Officials Knew Spying On The Senate Was Morally Wrong

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, a member of the Senate Committee on Intelligence, thinks CIA officials vehemently opposed the plan of Director John Brennan to spy on Congress for moral reasons.

“This will be the first time I’ve ever said this publicly: My sense is there were clearly people at the CIA who understood that what Mr. Brennan had done was flat out wrong,” Wyden said in an interview on the HBO show Vice, which is set to air Friday. “And they drafted an apology letter.”

Wyden then reiterated how dangerous it is for the CIA to be spying on the committee designated to provide oversight of the agency, reports The Hill.

“We are the agency that is required by law to conduct vigorous oversight over the CIA,” Wyden said. “We can’t do vigorous oversight over the agency if the agency we’re supposed to be overseeing is in fact secretly searching our files.”

The background to the conflict between the CIA and the Senate stems to an incident, in which staffers stumbled upon a file called the “Panetta review,” which was accidentally disclosed. Staffers were investigating the agency’s history of torture techniques during the George W. Bush administration.

When the CIA became aware staffers had the files in their possession, Brennan reportedly told officials to navigate files on the shared computer network with the Senate and poke around. CIA officers read emails of staffers and referred the matter for criminal prosecution to the Department of Justice. Five CIA employees implicated in the scandal have not faced any disciplinary action.

Brennan exploded in February during a Senate Intelligence Committee in response to Wyden demanding an apology for the apparent spying. Brennan said he had already apologized and blasted Wyden for insinuating espionage.

“But do not say that we spied on Senate computers or files,” Brennan said. “We did not do that. We were fulfilling our responsibilities.”

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