Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette.
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