New details about CIA spying on the U.S. Senate suggest agents impersonated Senate Intelligence Committee staffers to access computers used to compile a report about the agency’s post-9/11 torture and imprisonment techniques.
Citing “sources familiar with the CIA inspector general report,” which remains classified, one Senate source told the Huffington Post that agents engaged in previously unreported levels of espionage to access the off-site Senate Intelligence Committee computers used to assemble the as-yet unreleased report.
“If people knew the details of what they actually did to hack into the Senate computers to go search for the torture document, jaws would drop,” the source said in the report. “It’s straight out of a movie.”
Another source “familiar with the events surrounding the dispute between the CIA and Intelligence Committee” dismissed the claim.
“CIA simply attempted to determine if its side of the firewall could have been accessed through the Google search tool,” the source said. “CIA did not use administrator access to examine [Intelligence Committee] work product.”
Last month CIA Director John Brennan refused to answer questions posed by the Senate Armed Services Committee about the infiltration, including who authorized agents to spy on committee computers containing records of the agency’s Bush-era War on Terror interrogation and black site imprisonment practices. (RELATED: CIA’s John Brennan Refuses To Tell Congress Who Authorized Senate Spying)
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.
After initially denying the incident occurred, the agency admitted to the infiltration in July with a summary release of the inspector general’s report, forcing Brennan to apologize to Senate Intelligence Committee members Dianne Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss. (RELATED: CIA Admits To Infiltrating Senate Computers, Apologizes)
The IG report revealed CIA not only illegally accessed the computers, the agency also tried to defend itself by claiming Senate staffers accessed classified agency documents without permission, prompting the infiltration. The agency reported the access to the Department of Justice, with full knowledge that the allegation was false. It also showed that after Brennan ordered the spying to halt, agents accessed Senate email accounts without authorization. (RELATED: CIA spied on US Senate computers over torture program report)
Congress, CIA and the White House have spent the months since arguing about redactions prior to the release of the report, which is currently in the hands of White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.
A former CIA agent speculated to the Post that members of Congress may be holding off on their push for the report’s release over concerns about the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.