Washington, D.C. – After repeatedly lying to Congress and undermining the Senate Intelligence Committee, CIA Director John Brennan was caught lying again to the oversight committee this week when he refused to admit his employees had used “improper procedures” when they hacked into the Senate’s email accounts. Instead of taking responsibility for ordering his men to break the law, Brennan threw a temper tantrum during the open hearing as Sen. Ron Wyden refused to swallow any more of the CIA Director’s lies.
“In 2014, the CIA conducted an unauthorized search of Senate files, including the emails of Senate staff investigating the CIA’s use of torture,” Sen. Wyden addressed Brennan. “The CIA Inspector General later stated that the search involved improper Agency access to Senate files, and a review board that you appointed concluded that the search resulted in inappropriate access to the Committee’s work product. You initially denied that this search took place, but the reports of both your Inspector General and the review board show that this denial was at odds with the facts.”
While the Senate Intelligence Committee accessed CIA documents during its investigation of the Agency’s use of torture, five CIA employees — two lawyers and three computer specialists — hacked into files and emails belonging to the Committee. Brennan falsely accused the oversight committee of breaching the CIA’s firewall and stealing a classified document known as the Panetta Review. Instead of admitting his Agency’s wrongdoing, Brennan threatened to launch a FBI investigation against members of the intelligence committee.
“After the facts were publicly exposed, the CIA even wrote an apology letter that you did not send,” Wyden continued. “Now, senior officials from the NSA, the FBI, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence have all testified that it would be inappropriate for their agencies to secretly search Senate files without external authorization. But we have still not gotten an acknowledgment from you. So I think it would be important, I’d like to hear from you. I’d like to set the record straight that this would never happen again.”
Instead of confirming that his Agency will never spy on Senate files again, Brennan attempted to rationalize his motives for hacking their computers. Due to the fact that the CIA had inadvertently given the Committee access to the Panetta Review, Brennan felt justified breaking into Senate files because his Agency made an incompetent mistake. After his own people determined Brennan had lied to Congress about his Agency not hacking the Committee’s emails, the CIA Director privately apologized to Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss, but none of the other Committee members.
As Brennan kept stammering through his delusional rationalizations, Wyden interrupted him to point out that the CIA’s own Inspector General found the Agency’s actions “inappropriate” and a separate review board had concurred. With his time running out, Wyden asserted, “When you’re talking about spying on a committee responsible for overseeing your agency, in my view that undermines the very checks and balances that protect our democracy and it’s unacceptable in a free society.”
While blathering on about “de minimis access,” Brennan clearly lost his patience when he abruptly blurted out, “But do not say that we spied on Senate computers or your files. We did not do that. We were fulfilling our responsibilities.”
With the CIA Director lying directly to his face, Wyden retorted, “I read the exact words of the Inspector General and the Review Board. You appointed the Review Board! They said nobody ought to be punished, but they said there was improper access. And my point is, in our system of government, we have responsibilities to do vigorous oversight. And we can’t do vigorous oversight if there are improper procedures used to access our files.”
Like a petulant child, Brennan continuously shook his head while once again attempting to deflect blame onto the Senate for accessing a file that the CIA mistakenly handed over to them in the first place. Brennan spat, “I do think you’re mischaracterizing the full tenor of both the accountability board and the Inspector General’s report.”
Wyden immediately shot back, “Pretty hard to mischaracterize word for word quotes that use the words ‘improper actions.’”
According to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s scathing report on CIA rendition and torture, the CIA repeatedly lied to the Committee regarding prisoners’ deaths, the questionable backgrounds of CIA interrogators, threats to detainees’ family members, and the effectiveness of torture. The CIA also lied about the severity of torture committed and the unreliability of information obtained through enhanced interrogations. Although Sens. Mark Udall and Martin Heinrich called for Brennan’s resignation two years ago, President Obama and the Justice Department refuse to file criminal charges against the duplicitous CIA Director.