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Despite CIA Director John Brennan’s assurances to the contrary, it turns out that some members of the CIA did hack into computers of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
When the charges were first aired, Brennan dismissed them as “spurious allegations that are totally unsupported by facts.”
Back in March, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, accused the CIA of hacking into the computers of Senate investigators who were looking into accusations of CIA misconduct.
Brennan flatly denied that anyone in his agency broke the rules. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” he declared. “I mean, we wouldn’t do that.”
But it turns out that indeed they did. An internal investigation by the CIA confirmed that agency operatives hacked into committee computers, looking for documents they weren’t supposed to have.
So the CIA broke the rules, and probably violated the law, by spying on an agency of Congress. Is anyone surprised?
In case you missed the beginning of this brouhaha, the Senate Intelligence Committee has been investigating the detention and interrogation practices of the CIA in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The committee has prepared a 6,300-page report on its findings, which will be released shortly.
President Barack Obama said the report will confirm that the agency used techniques that “any fair-minded person would believe were torture.” At a news conference two weeks ago, the President said: “We did a whole lot of things that were right [after 9/11], but we tortured some folks.”
Actually, Mr. President, those weren’t just “folks” that the CIA was questioning; they were jihadist terrorists who were actively conspiring to murder as many of their opponents as they could.
At the time, U.S. officials (and a ton of us civilians) were worried about more attacks on U.S. soil — because the terrorists vowed they were coming. So the Federal government approved the use of “enhanced interrogation methods,” including waterboarding, to learn about the plans of al-Qaida and other jihadists.
In fact, the Justice Department at the time gave the CIA written approval to use such techniques. It was the official position of our government back then that they didn’t qualify as torture. Our leaders said the interrogations produced valuable intelligence that saved American lives.
Now, of course, the rules are different.
After charges of CIA spying on a Senate committee were aired, Brennan ordered the CIA Inspector General to look into the allegations. Guess what? It turns out they were true. In a classic case of understatement, the IG report acknowledged that “some employees acted in a manner inconsistent” with the CIA’s own regulations.
Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the CIA, said that Brennan will sure do something about the mess, by golly. “The director is committed to correcting any shortcomings related to this matter,” he declared. He’ll begin by appointing a “special accountability board” to review the IG’s findings.
That should make any miscreants tremble in their boots, don’t you think?
So what will happen now? Apparently, pretty much nothing. The Justice Department says it will not investigate further. Department spokesman Peter Carr said, “The Department carefully reviewed the matters referred to us and did not find sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal investigation.”
Even Feinstein seems to be satisfied. “Director Brennan apologized for these actions and submitted the IG report to an accountability board,” she said. “These are positive first steps.”
While some members of the Senate, including Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), are demanding that Brennan either resign or be fired, that doesn’t look likely. When White House spokesman Josh Earnest was asked if Brennan has any credibility problems as a result of the controversy, he replied, “No, not at all.”
The facts are the director of the CIA lied about what his agency was doing. He either knew he wasn’t telling the truth, or he relied on subordinates who deliberately deceived him. You’d think either one would be grounds for instant dismissal.
But, hey, why should we hold the CIA director to a higher standard than his boss? Obama has told so many whoppers it’s hard to keep track of them all. I guess this is what passes for “the new normal” in Washington, D.C., these days.
Until next time, keep some powder dry.