The Senate Intelligence Committee released a report that clearly states that Russia interfered with the 2016 election directing a disinformation campaign against Hillary Clinton and favored Donald Trump. The bipartisan report blows a huge hole in Trump’s conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine and the Democrats. The report corroborates past findings by researchers and the …
Tag: Senate Intelligence Committee
Oct 09 2019
Jun 08 2017
Former FBI Director James Comey testified, under oath, this morning before the Senate Intelligence Committee and started with stating the the White House lied and defamed him and the FBI by saying the bureau was in chaos and that he had lost FBI employees’ trust. For nearly three hours, Mr. Comey was questioned by committee …
May 26 2017
It’s getting really hard to keep up with all the news that keeps pouring out of this investigation into the Trump campaign collusion with Russia. It’s beginning to look like more than just tampering with the election. The evidence is just piling up and there are more questions, hopefully, to be soon followed by some …
Jan 16 2015
Both CIA Director John Brennan and White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough should be fired for violating the constitutional separation of powers in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s investigation into the Central Intelligence Agency’s spying on congressional aids who were looking into the CIA’s roll in torture. Now The CIA’s internal panel, with all the members close allies of Brennan or CIA insiders, released its report that concluded its own innocence and accused the Senate staffers of stealing the documents. From Tim Cushing at Techdirt
Now that the long-delayed CIA Torture Report has been released, it’s time to find someone to blame. Not for the torture, of course. There will apparently be no punishments handed down for the abuse uncovered by the Senate Intelligence Committee. (Also, apparently, there will be no huge international fallout. Remember just a few short weeks ago when we were promised increased terrorist activity if the report was released? Still waiting…) But there will be some noise made about the Senate’s alleged impropriety.
One-man transparency army Jason Leopold reports at Vice that the Senate allegedly stole documents from the CIA — documents they weren’t supposed to have access to. But the credulity of this assertion really depends on how much you trust the source. [..]
So, the CIA took it upon itself to perform an investigation no one asked for in order to clear itself of allegations that it had spied on Senate staffers. Chalk that one up to active disinterest by the administration in pursuing any allegations of wrongdoing associated with the Torture Report. Several months ago, the Senate claimed the CIA had hacked its computers and accessed Torture Report work-in-progress but the DOJ declined the invitation to investigate further.
Now, the CIA is claiming it was blameless (you know, other than the torture), based on its own internal investigation. The OIG report alleging CIA abuse of Senate computers was reviewed by the CIA’s in-house Accountability Board and determined to be “riddled with errors.”
The CIA’s accusations against the Senate boil down to a bundle of classified internal CIA documents known as the “Panetta Review.” [..]
Now, let’s suppose that all of the CIA’s allegations are true. If so, should the Senate be held accountable for actions it took that resulted in the exposure of CIA wrongdoing? Obviously, the CIA feels it should. But the documents “improperly accessed” were internal CIA documents that showed the agency was lying to its overseers about its interrogation techniques. Without this “improper” access, it’s likely the Torture Report wouldn’t have been as devastating. Large amounts of CIA wrongdoing would have remained undisclosed.
What’s included in the Panetta Review is information the Senate Intelligence Committee should have had access to in the first place. But the CIA deliberately and wrongfully withheld information that contradicted the narrative it was feeding to its overseers. If the Senate is to be punished for its wrongful access, then it follows that the CIA should be held accountable for its deliberate misrepresentation of its torture programs. Instead, there’s now a chance the investigators will pay for their (mild in comparison) misconduct while the agency walks away clean.
That’s not all, it seems Brennan was in cahoots with the White House, specifically, his good buddy, McDonough.
White House Knew CIA Snooped On Senate, Report Says
By Ali Watkins, The Huffington Post
Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan consulted the White House before directing agency personnel to sift through a walled-off computer drive being used by the Senate Intelligence Committee to construct its investigation of the agency’s torture program, according to a recently released report (pdf) by the CIA’s Office of the Inspector General.
The Inspector General’s report, which was completed in July but only released by the agency on Wednesday, reveals that Brennan spoke with White House chief of staff Denis McDonough before ordering CIA employees to “use whatever means necessary” to determine how certain sensitive internal documents had wound up in Senate investigators’ hands.
Brennan’s consultation with McDonough also came before the CIA revealed the search to then-Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), whose staff was the target of the snooping.
The new information suggesting the White House was aware of — and did not stop — the CIA’s computer snooping is unlikely to improve the existing distrust between Senate committee members and the executive branch. Feinstein has said that the CIA’s computer search likely violated the constitutional separation of powers, an allegation the White House has declined to directly address.
John Brennan Exonerates Himself with Sham Investigation
By Dan Froomkin, The Intercept
The outrageous whitewash (pdf) issued yesterday by the CIA panel John Brennan hand-picked to lead the investigation into his agency’s spying on Senate staffers is being taken seriously by the elite Washington media, which is solemnly reporting that officials have been “cleared” of any “wrongdoing“.
But what the report really does is provide yet more evidence of Brennan’s extraordinary impunity.
The panel concluded that CIA officials acted reasonably by scouring Senate computer drives in early 2014 when faced with a “potential security breach”. (That “breach” had allowed Senate staffers investigating CIA torture to access, more than three years earlier, a handful of documents Brennan didn’t want them to see.) [..]
But the CIA yesterday also released a redacted version of the full report of an earlier investigation by the CIA’s somewhat more independent inspector general’s office (pdf). And between the two reports, it is now more clear than ever that Brennan was the prime mover behind a hugely inappropriate assault on the constitutional separation of powers, and continues to get away with it.
Most notably, the official who ran the CIA facility where the Senate staffers had been allowed to set up shop wrote in a memo to the inspector general that Brennan, after speaking with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough about the errant documents, called him and “emphasized that I was to use whatever means necessary to answer the question of how the documents arrived on the SSCI side of the system.” [..]
And it was Brennan who made the paramount error in judgement here, when he decided that finding out how a series of embarrassing, revelatory CIA documents found their way into the hands of congressional overseers – really not such a bad thing – was somehow more of a threat to national security than respecting the independence of a separate branch of government, recognizing whose job it is to provide oversight over who, or honoring the spirit of an agreement between the agency and the Senate.
The whitewash was very much by design. Brennan stocked the panel with three CIA staffers and two of the most easily manipulated, consummate Washington insiders you could possibly imagine: former senator Evan Bayh, whose reputation as an unprincipled opportunist is legend; and Bob Bauer, whose lifelong mission has been to raise money for Democrats, not take stands. Then, with in-your-face chutzpah, Brennan called it an “accountability board”.
Far from “clearing” anyone of anything, the panel’s report is just the latest element in a long string of cover-ups and deceptions orchestrated by Brennan. [..]
The panel’s report can also be seen as Brennan’s total assault on David B. Buckley, the CIA inspector general who wrote the first, highly critical report on the incident – and who suddenly resigned a few days ago and is “out this week” according to his office. The report didn’t just bat down the inspector general’s conclusions as “unsupported”; it belittled them. In a recommendation that simply dripped with contempt, the panel concluded that “it would be better” if the inspector general’s office “kept more complete records of interviews.”
Meanwhile, the full (though redacted) inspector general’s report fleshes out a lot of the details of the previously-released executive summary, which generally concluded that the CIA had improperly accessed the Senate computers.
The CIA and NSA have become rogue agencies that need to be reigned in not just by congress but ny the executive branch, as well
Nov 21 2014
Is anyone surprised that the Obama administration is trying as hard as it can to stop the Senate CIA torture report from being released? It blatantly obvious that they do not want this report made public and are hoping that the incoming chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Richard Burr (R-SC), who is best buds with the intelligence community, will bury the report. The current stall is over the redaction of pseudonyms. The White House wants the aliases redacted arguing that it would expose the people they wish to protect. It is quite possible that if known, there people would face arrest and prosecution.
The fight between the White House and the Committee came to a head on Tuesday during the weekly briefing with the Senate Democrats and White House Chief of Staff and CIA Director John Brennan’s best bud, Denis McDonough:
“It was a vigorous, vigorous and open debate — one of the best and most thorough discussions I’ve been a part of while here,” said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.).
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who served as intelligence committee chair before Feinstein, was furious after the meeting, and accused the administration of deliberately stalling the report.
“It’s being slow-walked to death. They’re doing everything they can not to release it,” Rockefeller told HuffPost.
“It makes a lot of people who did really bad things look really bad, which is the only way not to repeat those mistakes in the future,” he continued. “The public has to know about it. They don’t want the public to know about it.”
As negotiations continue, Rockefeller said Democrats were thinking creatively about how to resolve the dispute. “We have ideas,” he said, adding that reading the report’s executive summary into the record on the Senate floor would probably meet with only limited success. “The question would be how much you could read before they grabbed you and hauled you off.” [..]
Rockefeller said the administration’s unwillingness to use aliases reflects a broader contempt for congressional oversight.
“The White House doesn’t want to release this. They don’t have to. And all we do is oversight, and they’ve never taken our oversight seriously,” he said. (He then added that he did allow for one exception, the Church Committee.) “Under Bush there was no oversight at all. Remember the phrase, ‘Congress has been briefed’? What that meant was that I and our chairman […] and two comparable people in the House had met with [former Vice President Dick] Cheney in his office for 45 minutes and given a little whirley birdie and a couple charts.”
“They had a specialty for being unforthcoming in our efforts at oversight,” he added, “and therefore there is no incentive for them to change their behavior.”
Time is running out. It’s clear that one or more of the senators will need to take some drastic action. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), who was defeated in the midterm elections, has said that he is considering reading the unredacted report into the Congressional Record on the Senate floor, a move that is protected by the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause.
It is time to release the torture report. Please sign the Act Blue petition to urge Sen. Udall to read the report into the congressional record.
The Senate Intelligence Committee’s “torture report” is expected to detail shocking abuse of prisoners at the hands of the CIA during the Bush administration, and even possible CIA lying to Congress.
But seven months after the Senate Intelligence Committee voted overwhelmingly to release the report to the American people, the White House is stonewalling Congress and demanding “redactions”-blacked-out sections and information-before making its contents public.
But there’s a way around that-and before the end of the year, we have a rare chance to make it happen.
Members of Congress have an absolute right to free speech, and a member could enter the report into the Congressional Record in its entirety-just as the Pentagon Papers were in 1971-without fear of prosecution.
That’s exactly what transparency advocates are calling on outgoing, staunchly anti-torture and pro-transparency Sen. Mark Udall to do.
Sign the petition to Sen. Mark Udall: If you enter the torture report into the Congressional Record, we’ll have your back.
Our Message to Sen. Mark Udall:
Before leaving office, please submit the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report to the Congressional Record. We know that you are considering undertaking this heroic and courageous act, and we and countless others will support you if you choose to do so.
We will deliver a copy of this petition and a list of signers to Sen. Mark Udall, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein and President Obama to make sure our message is heard.
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Note: When you sign our petition, your name and email address may be provided to one or more of the sponsoring organizations. You may opt out at any time.
Mar 11 2014
It was revealed last week that the Central Intelligence Agency may have been spying on Senate Select Committee on Intelligence members as they investigated the agency’s involvement and cover up of torture, rendition, and black op prisons. A second inquiry has now been referred to the FBI regarding the possibility that the SSCI members may have accessed a document that the CIA didn’t want them to see. It was apparently a review of the same documents that was ordered by then director of the CIA, Leon Panetta.
It was early December when the Central Intelligence Agency began to suspect it had suffered what it regarded as an embarrassing computer breach.
Investigators for the Senate Intelligence Committee, working in the basement of a C.I.A. facility in Northern Virginia, had obtained an internal agency review summarizing thousands of documents related to the agency’s detention and interrogation program. Parts of the C.I.A. report cast a particularly harsh light on the program, the same program the agency was in the midst of defending in a prolonged dispute with the intelligence committee.
What the C.I.A. did next opened a new and even more rancorous chapter in the struggle over how the history of the interrogation program will be written. Agency officials began scouring the digital logs of the computer network used by the Senate staff members to try to learn how and where they got the report. Their search not only raised constitutional questions about the propriety of an intelligence agency investigating its congressional overseers, but has also resulted in two parallel inquiries by the Justice Department – one into the C.I.A. and one into the committee. [..]
t is unclear how or when committee investigators obtained parts of the Panetta review. One official said that they had penetrated a firewall inside the C.I.A. computer system that had been set up to separate the committee’s work area from other agency digital files, but exactly what happened will not be known until the Justice Department completes its inquiry.
Several officials said that the C.I.A. never intended to give the internal memos to the Senate, partly under the justification that they were draft documents intended for the C.I.A. director and therefore protected under executive privilege authorities.
Another justification was that the Panetta Review began in 2009, three years after the agreed upon 2006 end date for the document transfer.
But by late last year, Democrats on the committee increased pressure on the C.I.A. to formally hand over the internal review. Senator Feinstein wrote a letter to Mr. Brennan, and Senator Mark Udall of Colorado disclosed the existence of the review during an open hearing on Dec. 17.
In retaliation for the Inspector General’s request that that the Justice Department look into criminal violations by the CIA for spying on the Senate committee members, the legal council for the CIA has opened a second investigation accusing the committee members of having accessed and remove the document they didn’t want them to see, “The Panetta Report.”
The New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti joined MSNBC’s Now host Alex Wagner on the [standoff between the CIA and congress ] over a potentially explosive intelligence report the Senate Intelligence Committee prepared on the CIA’s former program of rendition, detention and interrogation.
How interesting that Obama and the Senate made Brennan the head of the CIA. Now the man who was complicit for the authorization for torture and detention policies of the Bush regime is able to cover up his own war crimes.
Mar 06 2014
In an article from McCaltchy, it was revealed that the Central Intelligence Agency may have been spying on Senate Select Committee on Intelligence members as they investigated the agency’s involvement and cover up of torture, rendition, and black op prisons. The allegation that the CIA hacked the computers used by committee staffers preparing the 6300 page report has led to the CIA’s Inspector General to request the Justice Department to open an investigation of the SIA’s actions which may have been a violation of an agreement between the committee and the agency.
In question now is whether any part of the committee’s report, which took some four years to compose and cost $40 million, will ever see the light of day.
The report details how the CIA misled the Bush administration and Congress about the use of interrogation techniques that many experts consider torture, according to public statements by committee members. It also shows, members have said, how the techniques didn’t provide the intelligence that led the CIA to the hideout in Pakistan where Osama bin Laden was killed in a 2011 raid by Navy SEALs.
The committee determined earlier this year that the CIA monitored computers – in possible violation of an agreement against doing so – that the agency had provided to intelligence committee staff in a secure room at CIA headquarters that the agency insisted they use to review millions of pages of top-secret reports, cables and other documents, according to people with knowledge.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, a panel member, apparently was referring to the monitoring when he asked CIA Director John Brennan at a Jan. 29 hearing if provisions of the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act “apply to the CIA? Seems to me that’s a yes or no answer.”
Brennan replied that he’d have to get back to Wyden after looking into “what the act actually calls for and it’s applicability to CIA’s authorities.”
At the New York Times, Mark Mazzetti reports:
The origins of the current dispute date back more than a year, when the committee completed its work on a 6,000-page report about the Bush administration’s detention and interrogation program. People who have read the study said it is a withering indictment of the program and details many instances when C.I.A. officials misled Congress, the White House and the public about the value of the agency’s brutal interrogation methods, including waterboarding.
The report has yet to be declassified, but last June, John O. Brennan, the C.I.A. director, responded to the Senate report with a 122-page rebuttal challenging specific facts in the report as well as the investigation’s overarching conclusion – that the agency’s interrogation methods yielded little valuable intelligence.
Then, in December, Mr. Udall revealed that the Intelligence Committee had become aware of an internal C.I.A. study that he said was “consistent with the Intelligence Committee’s report” and “conflicts with the official C.I.A. response to the committee’s report.”
It appears that Mr. Udall’s revelation is what set off the current fight, with C.I.A. officials accusing the Intelligence Committee of learning about the internal review by gaining unauthorized access to agency databases.
Marcy Wheeler explained the lead up to these new revelations:
In January, Ron Wyden and Mark Udall suggested that CIA was hacking into US computers.
Wyden asked (43;04) John Brennan whether the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act applied to the CIA.
Wyden: Does the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act apply to the CIA?
Brennan: I would have to look into what that act actually calls for and its applicability to CIA’s authorities. I’ll be happy to get back to you, Senator, on that.
Wyden: How long would that take?
Brennan: I’ll be happy to get back to you as soon as possible but certainly no longer than-
Wyden: A week?
Brennan: I think that I could get that back to you, yes.
Minutes later, Mark Udall raised EO 12333′s limits on CIA’s spying domestically (48:30).
Udall: I want to be able to reassure the American people that the CIA and the Director understand the limits of its authorities. We are all aware of Executive Order 12333. That order prohibits the CIA from engaging in domestic spying and searches of US citizens within our borders. Can you assure the Committee that the CIA does not conduct such domestic spying and searches?
Brennan: I can assure the Committee that the CIA follows the letter and spirit of the law in terms of what CIA’s authorities are, in terms of its responsibilities to collect intelligence that will keep this country safe. Yes Senator, I do.
The NYT’s notes that it appears the spying began after the committee members accessed documents that the CIA didn’t want them to see. The next question should be, how did the CIA know what documents were accessed if they weren’t already monitoring the members? What were in those documents that the CIA didn’t want to be seen?
The answer is the statute does apply. The Act, however, does not expressly prohibit any lawfully authorized investigative, protective, or intelligence activity , , , of an intelligence agency of the United States,
It appears not only did the CIA violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the National Securities Act and EO 12333 but Brennan lied about it to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Why does he still have his job?
Feb 07 2013
There are a lot of questions for John Brennan’s confirmation hearing today and only a few hours scheduled to ask them.
Many questions have been published by various news organizations and blogs. I very much want answers to their questions but I have one big, obvious question as well. This is my question:
What has changed since 2008-9 when John Brennan was considered to be too toxic to be confirmed as Director of the CIA? What is so different now that he is expected to be easily confirmed and that only a few hours are needed to question him?
In my opinion, he is even less confirmable in 2013 than he was in 2009. So what has changed? I’ll explain more about why I think he is even less suited for the job today, but first, let’s explore some of the questions posed by the media.
Jul 26 2012
The Senate Intelligence Committee passed an intelligence authorization bill, Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. The bill, co-sponsored by the chair of the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), passed the committee by a vote of 14 – 1 would:
[..] authorize intelligence funding to counter terrorist threats, prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, enhance counterintelligence, conduct covert actions and collect and analyze intelligence around the globe. [..]
The legislation includes a title on preventing unauthorized disclosures of classified information to improve the government’s ability to prevent and detect unauthorized disclosures that harm national security and investigate and punish those responsible. [..]
The approved bill includes a series of provisions to prevent leaks, including:
- A requirement the executive branch notifies Congress when making certain authorized disclosures of intelligence information to the public;
- A requirement for the Director of National Intelligence to improve the process for conducting administrative leaks investigations, including a requirement to proactively identify leaks and take administrative action when necessary;
- A restriction on the number of intelligence community employees authorized to communicate with the media;
- A provision to improve non-disclosure agreements and the penalties for non-compliance;
- A prohibition on current and former intelligence officials entering into certain contracts with media organizations;
- A report from the attorney general on possible improvements to the criminal process for investigating and prosecuting leaks; and
- A provision to improve the intelligence community’s ability to detect insider threats.
The bill was a response to the recent high level leaks about cyber warfare against Iran, Obama’s “kill list” and a CIA underwear bomb plot sting operation in Yemen that Sen. Feinstein said came from the White House. A good portion of the bill is directed at curbing “leaks” that come from intelligence employees who talk to the media either with or without the permission of the White House. The details of these restrictions are vague and ill defined, as Kevin Gosztola at FDL points out:
Would the “number of intelligence community employees” be limited by establishing guidelines that prohibited lower level employees from talking with news organizations? Would it cut back on the number of individuals, who could speak in an official capacity about intelligence operations?
What exactly does the intelligence committee mean by “contract”? Is getting an intelligence official’s approval to put comments on the record a “contract”? Then there’s the part about this applying to “former intelligence officials” as well as “current” officials. Would this put limits on what people like NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake would be able to say publicly because they might share information that would reveal details on matters “sensitive” to national security? Would the “number of intelligence community employees” be limited by establishing guidelines that prohibited lower level employees from talking with news organizations? Would it cut back on the number of individuals, who could speak in an official capacity about intelligence operations?
What exactly does the intelligence committee mean by “contract”? Is getting an intelligence official’s approval to put comments on the record a “contract”? Then there’s the part about this applying to “former intelligence officials” as well as “current” officials. Would this put limits on what people like NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake would be able to say publicly because they might share information that would reveal details on matters “sensitive” to national security? [..]
Truth be told, Sen. Feinstein’s motives are not all that altruistic since she has a vested interest in the national security state which has enriched her and her military contractor husband. Nor is she interested in the original purpose for the creation of the Intelligence Committee. Created in the wake of the intelligence abuses discovered by the Church Committee in the mid-1970s, committee’s intent was to “provide vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States to assure that such activities are in conformity with the Constitution and laws of the United States.” But, as Glenn Greenwald noted the Senator from California, who Greenwald says embodies the species of blatant corruption, has no interest in that but in fact does the opposite:
(S]he unyieldingly devotes herself to fortifying the wall of secrecy behind which the intelligence community operates, protecting whatever they do from accountability, and punishing anyone who impedes it.
Along those lines, one of Feinstein’s prime causes over the last several years has been to increase even further the extreme secrecy regime behind which the federal government operates, and to demand harsh punishment for whistleblowers. At the end of 2010, she demanded that the DOJ prosecute Julian Assange and WikiLeaks for violations of the Espionage Act of 1917, and earlier this month issued the same demand to an Australian newspaper, using a rationale that would apply every bit as much to The New York Times (inded a rationale that is now being applied by many in Washington to call for prosecutions of newspapers). Even though the Obama administration has prosecuted twice as many leakers for espionage as all previous administrations combined, Feinstein continues to go on Fox News and call for still more leak prosecutions.
This month, she joined with the most right-wing members of the House to demand investigations into recent leaks to the media (though because it’s White House officials who are the leakers – rather than Army Private-nobodies or obscure mid-level NSA employees – she notably refused to endorse any criminal prosecutions: only harmless Congressional ones). Yesterday, she pointed out the obvious – that at least some of these most controversial recent leaks come “from the ranks” of the Obama White House – and “said her committee would meet Tuesday to craft legislation that would address the leaks of classified information, including additional authorities and rules to stop the leaks”: in other words, enact new laws to strengthen the government’s secrecy power still further and permit still easier punishment for leakers.
In June, commemorating the 40th anniversary of Watergate, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein appeared on “Face the Nation” and warned against a McCarthey-esque “witch hunt” that is about to break out in Congress:
“You’ve got to be very careful about creating a witch hunt for sources and a witch hunt in which you go after reporters, because now more than ever we need real reporting on this presidency, on national security, on all these areas, and the press is not the problem here,” Bernstein said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“We’ve got plenty of laws, and if somebody inside is doing things with real national security secrets that he ought not, or she ought not, to be doing in terms of giving them to the press, that’s one thing,” he added. [..]
“It’s very difficult – I know from doing stories like this where you’re dealing with sensitive government secrets — to modulate and be careful and at the same time hold the government accountable for what they’re doing,” Woodward said. “This is an area that needs to be handled with great delicacy, and I’m not sure we have a political system that knows how to do anything with great delicacy.”
Bernstein noted that the press has generally handled sensitive information carefully in the past.
Sen. Feinstein, along with her right wing cohorts, has accomplished creating that legislation which would embody that “McCathy-esque witch hunt” that would jeopardize our civil liberties in the name of national security and Sen. Feinstein’s self interests.