Senate Intelligence Committee Accuses CIA of Spying

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Dianne Feinstein

The Central Intelligence Agency is under investigation for allegedly spying on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, its Chair and Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California confirmed to reporters from the New York Times on Tuesday. “There is an I.G. investigation,” she said, referring to the agency’s Inspector General David B. Buckley who, as the publication learned through government officials, began the inquiry after lawmakers complained that CIA employees were inappropriately monitoring staff members of the Senate Intelligence Committee during a review of a defunct agency program.

The history of the alleged surveillance dates back to the administration of George W. Bush. In the aftermath of 9/11, the Senate committee began a lengthy examination of the CIA’s discontinued detention and interrogation program — an investigation that took lawmakers years to complete. But it appears that the CIA wanted to keep secret the details of the program, details that the still-classified, 6,300-page report would reveal. In essence, the agency’s surveillance on Intelligence Committee’s review was an effort to control how the history of the program was written, as the agency’s detention and interrogation of suspected terrorists was among the most controversial elements of the United States government’s response to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

As for Senate lawmakers, the issue is not one of controlling the writing of history, but of a dangerous overstep. The CIA’s 1947 charter stipulates that the agency may not spy on U.S. citizens, meaning the alleged surveillance it conducted on committee staffers should definitely be examined. The accusations made by members of the Intelligence committee — who believe CIA officials hacked into staffers’ computers — have elevated the dispute between the agency and Congress over controlling the post-9/11 narrative into a violation of the separation of government powers. The Senate Intelligence Committee, which was formed in the 1970s, has oversight of the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and other such spy agencies.

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