The Central Intelligence Agency admitted Thursday that its spooks hacked the computers of senators and their staffers who were investigating "war on terror"-era torture and detention allegations against the agency.
CIA Director John Brennan, who last spring had vowed that allegations his officers were spying on the Senate Select Intelligence Committee "will be proved wrong," spent his day apologizing to members of that committee and promising reforms and oversight, according to the New York Times' Mark Mazzetti:
Last year, the C.I.A. gained access to a computer network, reserved solely for Senate investigators working at an agency facility in Northern Virginia, after officials suspected the intelligence committee had improperly obtained an internal C.I.A. report about the detention program, which is now defunct.
CIA officers had apparently been trying to find out how the senators, particularly Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), had obtained a classified 6,300-page agency report on Bush-era detention and interrogation activities. Part of that report is believed to pertain to how CIA personnel came to destroy "videotapes of brutal interrogations of Al Qaeda detainees" in 2005, the Times previously reported.
Feinstein insists that the CIA hackers also removed tons of information from Senate staffers' computers, even though the committee's investigators had not come by the thousands of pages of info illegally. Rather, she said, the CIA itself had accidentally given senators all the classified internal data in a document dump.
"By law, the CIA is specifically prohibited from collecting intelligence concerning the domestic activities of U.S. citizens," the agency's website states, though it adds that exceptions can be made "for an authorized intelligence purpose" with "senior approval."