The CIA’s ongoing defiance of congressional authority continued during a closed-door meeting last week after Director John Brennan refused to tell lawmakers who authorized the illegal surveillance of Senate Intelligence Committee computers, which were used to compile a report on the agency’s interrogation practices.
“I’m concerned there’s disrespect towards the Congress,” Senate Armed Services Committee chairman and Michigan Democrat Carl Levin said in a McClatchy report. “I think it’s arrogant, I think it’s unacceptable.”
Hours before a closed meeting with Brennan and Director of National Security James Clapper on Tuesday, the committee received written notification that Brennan was refusing to answer questions posed to him by California Democrat and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein.
Among those questions were who authorized CIA personnel to infiltrate committee computers, which were used to compile a thorough report on the agency’s Bush-era War on Terror torture interrogation techniques — a report which has yet to be released, as the agency and committee officials continue to spar over redactions. (RELATED: CIA Admits To Infiltrating Senate Computers, Apologizes)
While the meeting was originally scheduled to discuss ISIS, outrage over Brennan’s refusal sparked a renewed debate between the two entities, which was unofficially considered resolved after the CIA inspector general released a report confirming the incident, and Brennan admitted and apologized to Feinstein. The Justice Department subsequently concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue an investigation.
Brennan reportedly went so far as to raise his voice at the California Democrat during a heated exchange.
According to CIA spokesman Dean Boyd, Brennan refused to answer the questions on the grounds that doing so could compromise a CIA-sanctioned investigation into the matter headed up by former Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh. Brennan instead referred the questions to CIA IG David Buckley.
“Nobody in the executive branch should get away with not answering questions to a legitimate legislative inquiry,” Levin said in the report. “It may or may not be appropriate for the (CIA) IG to answer, but it’s not appropriate for Brennan to refuse to answer. If he doesn’t know the answers, he can say so.”
Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, who has been calling for Brennan’s resignation since the IG report came out, said the incident prompted him to renew his insistence that Brennan step down.