© J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., declined to comment while speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill except to confirm that CIA Inspector General David Buckley was looking into whether the agency had monitored her staff’s computers.
Congressional aides involved in preparing the Senate Intelligence Committee's unreleased study of the CIA's secret interrogation and detention program walked out of the spy agency's fortress-like headquarters with classified documents that the CIA contended they weren't authorized to have, McClatchy has learned.
After the CIA confronted the panel in January about the removal of the material last fall, panel staff concluded that the agency had monitored computers they'd been given to use in a high-security research room at the CIA campus in Langley, Va., a McClatchy investigation found.
It remained unclear Wednesday if the monitoring, the unauthorized removal of classified material or another matter were the subject of a recent CIA request to the Justice Department for an investigation into alleged malfeasance in connection with the committee's top-secret study.
The documents removed from the agency included a draft of an internal CIA review that at least one lawmaker has publicly said showed that agency leaders misled the Intelligence Committee in disputing some of the committee report's findings
, according to a knowledgeable person who requested anonymity because of the matter's extraordinary sensitivity.
In a combative statement issued Wednesday evening, CIA Director John Brennan chastised unidentified senators for making "spurious allegations about CIA actions that are wholly unsupported by the facts.
"I am very confident that the appropriate authorities reviewing this matter will determine where wrongdoing, if any, occurred in either the executive branch or legislative branch," he said in an apparent reference to the request for a Justice Department investigation. "Until then, I would encourage others to refrain from outbursts that do a disservice to the important relationship that needs to be maintained between intelligence officials and congressional overseers."
The removal of the documents is the focus of an intense legal dispute between the CIA and its congressional overseers, said several people who also cited the matter's sensitivity in asking to remain anonymous.
Some committee members regard the monitoring as a possible violation of the law and contend that their oversight powers give them the right to the documents that were removed. On the other hand, the CIA considers the removal as a massive security breach because the agency doesn't believe that the committee had a right to those particular materials.