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CIA director John Brennan, then the President's nominee for the position, meets with U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) at Feinstein's office at Hart Senate Office Building January 31, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
As far as inside-the-beltway conflicts transpire, it rarely gets more serious than this. Today, in a 40-minute speech on the Senate floor, Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA) publicly accused the Central Intelligence Agency of spying on Senate staffer computers.
As reported by the LA Times, this dispute had been occurring behind the scenes. Then today, Feinstein escalated the complaint shortly before CIA Director John Brennan was scheduled to speak at a special event.
His response: "We are not in any way trying to thwart the (Senate Intelligence Committee) report's progress (or) release," Brennan said at a Council on Foreign Relations event. "As far as the allegations of the CIA hacking into computers, nothing could be further from the truth."
The clash stems from a Senate investigation into CIA interrogation techniques under the George W. Bush administration. Senate staffers were reviewing hundreds of CIA documents at the agency when they reportedly gained access to an internal CIA review critical of interrogation practices. In response, it's alleged the CIA covertly tried to track the Senate staffers’ work.
If true, does it break the law and interfere with the separation of powers? Will President Obama get involved? What could come of a Justice Department investigation? How will this harm relations between the top legislator on intelligence and the powerful spy agency?
Ken Dilanian, Intelligence and National Security reporter, Los Angeles Times